Let’s face it. Most people do not sit on a pile of cash. The need for credit could arise at any time, and sources such as loans, mortgage or simply even a credit card could save the day. While having a credit history is not a problem per se, what assumes significance is the need to manage your credit profile.

Food for the wallet
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One of the things I do (almost like a monthly ritual) is check my credit report to see my credit history and any significant changes in my credit profile.

Credit reports contain priceless information such as:

Credit history – Amounts outstanding to different creditors (eg., credit card, mortgage)
Of course the most important component, your credit score and rating
Bankruptcies, law suits and fraud alerts
Your basic details – Name, aliases, address and so on

Interestingly, while a credit report reveals a lot about your credit status and financial situation, there are certain things that are not quite obvious except to the discerning eye. The good news is – there are ways to work around this and locate the information you want.

So what does your report not reveal about you?

1. What followed a ‘footprint’ in your credit file?

Popularly called ‘footprints’ on your credit file, details of searches conducted in your name do appear in your credit report. Simple exercises like pre-employment screening loan eligibility check and credit-application checks would leave an impression on your file. Now whether this affects your credit score or not depends on the nature of search itself.

The point in question is – What followed the search? For example, a search by a financial institution could indicate that an online savings account is being opened in your name without you even applying for it.

How does one overcome this?

Identity theft is a harsh reality. Interestingly, it is your credit report itself that could help you beat this. Pay close attention to the ‘searches’ made in your name, and if you identify some company that you have not associated with, then investigate to find out what the search was about. It is quite likely that it is a genuine search. However in case there is a possibility of fraud, you can find out quickly.

2. Your income

Perhaps you have a steady income but a poor credit score simply because you have been too busy and have forgotten to pay your store card bills. Your credit report, to be fair, does not contain salary income.

However, credit reports do contain other priceless information about your credit pattern, such as historical data and specific details of ‘changes’ in your credit file (eg., amounts paid off and settled) that will help reveal your past (and therefore, likely) repayment behavior.

3. Ancient data

There could be some uncommon situations where your credit report does not contain any glaring negative factors and yet, your credit score is not very good. Chances are that the credit rating agency has access to old data that has affected your credit profile however the same is not displayed in the most recent report.

The best way to get around this is to contact the company itself and obtain information. For instance, it could be something as simple as a mobile bill that has not been paid when you were a college student.

So there you go! Even if your credit report won’t exactly reveal certain facts in black and white, it will always provide you with information that you can work around with and find your answers. So do apply for credit reports regularly and keep an eye on your own profile.

This article was written by Pallavi Subramaniam who writes regularly for The UK Credit Info (Business credit reference agency) and The Funding Angels (an Angel Funding networking company)

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