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What to look for when reviewing your annual credit report 

If you’re anything like me, the first few weeks of a new calendar year can seem blurry. Perhaps it’s the post-Holiday coma that my bank account and social life go through, or simply getting settled into a new calendar. Spring is always a pleasant surprise, regardless of the reason. This is the season of renewal. It’s also the best time to review your finances and create a strategy plan for the rest of the year. 

Do you want to increase your credit score this year this year? 

Reviewing your credit report is the first step towards achieving this goal. You are entitled to one credit report per year from each credit bureau. You can download your annual report at

Pro Tip: Download your annual report from only one bureau so that you don’t have to download it all at once. 

You’ve just downloaded your report. Now you want to work on your score. But then you realize that you don’t understand any of the information in your report. 

  • Personal Information 

This section contains information about you. Name, social security number and date of birth. Employment data. Current address and other addresses. This section is fairly self-explanatory. However, ensure you are reviewing all information to verify that it is accurate. 

  • Public Record 

If you have any open or pending legal issues that could affect your financial situation, this section will provide information. These include but aren’t limited to bankruptcies and foreclosures, liens, or judgments, as well as wage garnishments. These can also be included in credit reports, along with a date that they will be removed. 

  • Creditor Information 

This section shows the status of each account. It also includes information about joint or individual responsibility, account balances, payment history and past due information. This section shows all credit lines that you have. Each account will have its own. 

Accounts that are in good standing are usually grouped together. Any accounts that aren’t in good standing (averse) will also be grouped together. 

What are negative accounts on your credit reports? 

Negative accounts are credit lines that are in default, in collections and/or with poor payment histories. These three factors can have a negative impact on your credit score, making them “adverse”. You should review all accounts that fall under this heading. 

You can dispute incorrect information at all three credit bureaus. The information will be deleted after seven years if the account is really adverse. Similar to the public record information, reports will tell you when it will be removed from your report. 

Credit terminology 

1. Charge-off 

This means that the creditor has stopped receiving payment from the borrower and have recorded the balance as a loss. This occurs after missed payments have been made and past due balances have been subject to collection. Even if you pay the balance off, the account will remain on your credit report as a “charge off” until the adverse account is closed. 

2. Revolving account 

This type of credit account is similar to a credit card. A revolving account is one where the borrower does not have to make every payment. 

3. Installment account 

Another type of credit account. Most commonly, installment accounts are loans. Each installment account is characterized by a fixed payment amount, which is paid over a predetermined time period. 

4. Register for an account 

These accounts are not often shown on credit reports, but they must be paid each month. These accounts are usually for utility companies such as electric, water, and gas companies. 

5. Collection amount 

Delinquent accounts that have been sent to third-party collection agencies are shown on your credit report and marked “collection account.” 

Creditor Inquiries 

This section breaks down how many “hard” and what “soft” inquiries you have made to credit. What is the difference? When you apply for an auto loan, credit card, or other financial product, a hard credit check is performed. These are required in order to apply for many types of purchases. However, it is important to remember that hard inquiries can affect your score so it’s best not to have them. Soft inquiries are when your credit is checked, or you have been pre-approved for credit. 

What if your credit score is not the best? 

People can sometimes find themselves in need of cash. However, if their credit scores are poor, they may find it difficult to get the money needed. This is especially true when there is an immediate expense. A payday loan can be a great way to pay unexpected expenses. Payday lenders such as  may conduct what’s known as a “soft credit check” or inquiry. 

Your financial security depends on your credit score. However, it is important to understand your credit score. It takes time to repair poor credit. Repaying any loan on time is key to improving your credit score.