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Credit Report Basics

What makes up a credit report?

Your credit report is a valuable tool that can help you build, track, maintain, and protect your credit reputation. This record of your payment history is often used to determine your financial dependability.

Each person has their own report. If you share joint debts with someone else, that debt will appear on each of your individual reports. Credit reports typically contain four sections:

  1. Identifying information like your name, address, Social Security number, and date of birth.
  2. Credit accounts show who you owe money to, the amount, terms of the loan, and payment history. Pay close attention to the accounts and payment history to ensure they’re correct. You may also see accounts here that are closed, since most payment history stays on your credit report for at least seven years.
  3. Credit inquiries such as how often have you applied for credit and for how much.
  4. Collections and public records including any past-due accounts that have been turned over to a collection agency and credit-related public records like bankruptcies.
Key Takeaway: These four categories of information tell the story of your credit history to others, so make sure your story is accurate.

National Consumer Reporting Agencies

There are three nationwide consumer reporting agencies – Equifax®, Experian®, and TransUnion. They are each required by law to provide one free credit report every 12 months upon request.

Reviewing budget documents

Your Credit Reports

Get a free copy of your credit reports and ensure all your information is correct and up to date.


You can request a report from one agency or all three. The format of each agency’s report may differ, but the information conveyed should be the same. Requesting your credit report is not considered a credit inquiry so it will not negatively impact your credit score.

If you find inaccurate information, inform the lender and reporting agency right away. Carefully review for identity errors or inaccurate reporting of debts including payment, balance amount, or credit limit. Mistakes happen but errors can also be a sign of identity theft.

Equifax Experian TransUnion

(888) 766-0008

(888) 397-3742

(800) 680-7289

Sign up for Free Credit Monitoring

Each reporting agency offers Service members free credit monitoring and will notify you of positive or negative changes to your credit score, credit inquiries, information added to your credit report, potential identity theft, and new credit activities. Take advantage of this valuable tool as you seek to build a positive credit reputation.