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Credit Reports & FICO® Scores

There are several factors that influence the approval of your loan or credit card, one of which is your credit report. It is important to verify your credit report to see what creditors use when they review your credit applications. By doing so, you can catch and clear up any errors and discrepancies that can prevent you from having a strong credit rating. Experts suggest you review your credit report every few years, if not yearly.

Additionally, your FICO® Score (credit score) is a key component lenders use when approving you for loans and credit cards (and may influence the rate you are offered). Your credit reports can help you understand how paying off or assuming debt influences your FICO® Score, and what you can do to maintain a solid rating.

What’s in Your Credit Report

Credit reports are full of coded information that can be quite confusing. The primary function of these reports is to help businesses to make decisions, and codes simplify that process. If you read through your report line by line, though, and use the information provided below, you will be able to get a good understanding of what is being reported about you.


No matter where and how you access your report, the same categories of information will be listed:

The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003 (FACT Act) enables you to receive a free copy of your credit report once every 12 months from each of the three nationwide consumer reporting agencies: TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. Simply visit to order your free credit reports.

Please note that is the official site where you can receive your free credit reports and should not be confused with,, or other similar websites.

If you have need for additional services beyond your free credit reports, TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax all offer similar services that you can purchase to help manage your credit profile and keep your credit rating strong. Some of their services include:

  • 3-in-1 monitoring and email / wireless alert services that notify you of key changes to your three nationwide credit reports.
  • FICO® Score monitoring, including alerts when changes to your FICO score might impact the interest rates you receive.
  • Identity theft services that include scanning the internet for your personal information on suspect websites, email / wireless alerts when changes are posted to your credit profile, and identity theft insurance.

A specialist with the BALANCE Financial Fitness Program will explain the information on your credit report, show you how to correct inaccuracies and help you with a plan to improve your credit score, BALANCE can even provide a low-cost credit report review (with score) or help you access one on your own. You can also obtain the free, yearly credit report you are entitled to receive, as mentioned above.

Useful Resources

Get free debit and budget counseling from BALANCE. Their counselors are members of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.