Your credit report shows a summary of your credit history. It shows whom you owe money to and the amount, your payment history, property you rent, and more. This information contained on a credit report also determines your credit score.
Who pulls my credit report?
Life is full of scenarios that may require your credit report—and it’s not just when you need a credit card or loan from the bank. It’s important to maintain good credit history or work to improve your credit for many reasons.
Landlords and mortgage bankers
Both mortgage bankers and rental property landlords like to know they’re going to get paid. If you’re trying to find housing, whether you’re renting or buying, they may pull your credit report.
For many rental property managers and landlords, your credit history is a top determining factor in their decision to extend a lease to you, according to a TransUnion study. They’re less likely to offer you a lease if they think you’ll be late or miss rent payments all together.
If you’re buying a house, mortgage bankers use your credit report along with other criteria to determine if you qualify for a home loan. Your credit history and a good credit score can help you save significant money on your loan’s annual percentage rate and total interest, according to myFICO.
If you’re applying for a job, the employer may pull your credit history with permission—especially if you’re going to be working with finances. This may weigh into their decision-making process. Not all employers do this, but it’s best to be prepared.
With better credit, you can often get a better rate on recurring expenses like car insurance, according to Consumer Reports. While insurance companies don’t look at everything in your credit report, they use some of the information to help decide what your rate will be or whether or not to insure you at all. (That is unless you live in California, Hawaii, or Massachusetts where using credit reports to help determine rates is forbidden.) Other factors such as your driving record and citations also come into play.
Cable, internet, phone, sewer, water, electric, and trash pick-up providers may pull your credit history as well. Typically, utility companies look for outstanding debt sent to collection agencies. If this shows up, you may need to work with the companies to receive service by agreeing to make payments up front or a deposit.
Credit card issuers
If you receive a prescreened credit card offer, the company may have used your credit report to determine what offer to send you. If you apply for a specific credit card, the company you’re requesting a card from may also pull your report then as well. The better your credit report and credit score look, the more likely you’ll be to qualify for a credit card with better terms, including lower fees and interest.
Even if you don’t suspect suspicious or inaccurate activity on your credit report, it’s still a good idea to regularly request a free credit report and review it. This report will show you who has requested your credit report, too. You can pull your personal credit report from any one of the three major credit reporting companies (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) for free every twelve months, as required by the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
Do these inquiries negatively affect my credit score?
It depends on whether it’s a hard or soft inquiry, according to myFICO. If you’re actively trying to qualify for a new type of loan or line of credit, that will likely be a hard inquiry. This will show on your credit report for two years, according to Experian. On the other hand, when creditors mail you a prescreened credit card offer, an employer checks out your history, or you pull your credit report it’s a soft inquiry. Soft inquiries don’t negatively affect your credit score. Only reports pulled by potential lenders usually have a temporary negative impact.
Have other questions about your credit report?
The myFICO Blog has a wealth of information regarding credit reports and scores you can access. You can also learn how to improve your credit score, dispute credit card transactions, protect your identity, and more right here on our blog.
This information is presented for educational purposes only. It is not intended as, nor should it be construed to be, legal, financial or other professional advice. Please consult with your attorney or financial advisor to discuss any legal or financial issues involved with credit decisions.