Important Terms Relating to Credit Reports
Credit scores are important indicators of one's financial health. For this reason, many authorities advise consumers to check their credit report annually. There are some common terms associated with credit reports that may confuse you, so let's define some of them below.
Credit Bureau - An agency that collects information about a person's financial background to appraise one's creditworthiness. There are three major bureaus in the U.S., each of which independently calculates a consumer's credit rating.
Credit Score - The numerical score representing one's personal creditworthiness. A high score indicates strong financial health. It is calculated by taking into consideration a variety of factors, including payment history and types of credit used.
Credit Repair - Attempting to improve or increase one's credit score. Be advised that most websites promising quick-fix methods of doing this are scams.
Background Check - Looking up a person's financial history, past employment, criminal record, and similar data. This is frequently done by employers and landlords to help determine whether they should enter a business relationship with someone, and the process often involves checking credit reports.
Identity Theft - The illegal practice of stealing a person's private information, often including social security numbers and similar confidential data, with the intent of securing benefits that the victim would be otherwise entitled to. Routinely monitoring one's credit report can reduce the chance of falling victim to identity theft.
Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) - The federal law responsible for the regulation of the manner in which a consumer reporting agency operates. Among other things, the FCRA requires credit bureaus to send free annual reports to consumers upon request.