Understanding Your Credit Report

Finances are complicated, and they are further complicated by your credit report. Your credit score fluctuates constantly, and knowing how various things will affect your credit report is important to your overall financial planning. Here, we’ll explore the various factors that cause your credit score to go up or down, and how long those factors will continue to affect your credit score.

Fair Credit Reporting Act

The Fair Credit Reporting Act–also known as the Consumer Credit Protection Act–was enacted on October 26, 1970. It is designed to protect the integrity and privacy of a person’s credit information. It requires credit reporting agencies, and those that report credit information to those agencies (like credit card companies), to make sure all information is fair, accurate and confidential. Information in a consumer report cannot be provided to anyone who does not have a purpose specified in the Act.

Components Of Your Credit Report

Before exploring how various actions affect your credit report, it’s important to know how your credit score is calculated. Not every action has the same impact. Here is how your credit score is determined:
Payment history – 35%
Amounts owed – 30%
Length of credit history – 15%
Credit mix – 10%
New credit – 10%
This makes up your FICO credit score, the most common method used. Obviously, payment history is crucial and it’s important to remember that even if a company does not report your usual on-time payments, they will certainly report a missed or late one.

Time Frame

Your credit report is not a static document. Your credit score changes all the time, and actions that have lowered your credit score do disappear from your credit report. The time frame varies from two to ten years. Generally, those negative actions will fall off your report after seven years. Another thing to understand is that the severity of the impact diminishes with time, too. So a bankruptcy five year ago will matter less than when freshly filed.

Credit Inquiries

One of the most insidious ways that your credit score can be lowered comes from credit inquiries. Also called “hard inquiries” or “hard pulls,” a credit inquiry of this type happens when you apply for another credit card. It’s important to know that even department store credit cards can cause a hard pull. Credit inquiries remain on your credit report for two years, and can have a negative impact on your credit score—from 5 to 20 points per pull.

Seven-Year Itch

Most negative actions will remain on your credit report for 7 years. These include debts that have gone into collection, charge-offs (where the business is no longer actively trying to collect the debt), and late payments that are over 30 days past due. The later the payment, the worse it is for your credit score. It also includes Chapter 13 bankruptcy, starting from the date of filing. Chapter 7 bankruptcy stays on your credit report for 10 years.

Credit Repair

When you have financial difficulties, your credit score will be impacted, whether or not you declare bankruptcy. This impact does not have to be devastating, and it can be mitigated. The experts at Burr Law can guide you in re-establishing your credit in ways that meet your particular situation. Remembering that payment history is crucial, and that many accounts do not typically report on-time payments, you can work to have your timely payments noted. While auto loans, mortgages, credit cards and some others are typically reported, other things like utilities, phone payments, and even streaming services can be reported. If you have a monthly expense that isn’t being reported and you want those timely payments to count toward your credit score, Burr Law can help.

Understanding your credit report can lessen your anxiety around declaring bankruptcy. When your credit score is suffering from late payments and debts in collection, bankruptcy isn’t going to make things worse. It can make things a lot better, and the professionals at Burr Law can guide you in repairing your credit too.