Check Your Credit Report For Errors


by Barbara Nevins Taylor

If you’re confused about the difference between your credit score and your credit report you’re not alone.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) says more than 50 million people now can access their credit reports and credit scores but many of us wonder what we’re looking at.

Here’s how it shakes out:



Credit Report:

Your credit report is a record of your financial history. It lists all of your credit cards, your payment history and any money that you owe.

Three major credit bureaus, private companies, keep track of all of this information and share it with people who pay for it. You can get a free look at your credit report three times a year at


Experian, TransUnion and Equinox run these sites and the law requires them to provide a free credit report to you each year. So again, don’t pay anyone for a credit report; you can get one for free.

Credit Score:

Your credit score is more complicated. It’s a statistical analysis of your outstanding debt, credit history and payment history. Most banks and other financial institutions look at the credit score compiled by FICO or the Fair Isaac Corporation. It’s another private company that keeps tabs on you. FICo gives you access to your Credit Score for a fee.

Last year, the CFPB asked credit card companies and financial institutions to make your credit score available to you for free. More than a dozen companies complied with the request and others seem headed in that direction.

CFPB Director Richard Corday said, “Access to these scores provides an opportunity to engage consumers around their credit reports. Once consumers see their credit scores, they can be motivated to learn more about their credit history, check their full credit report, and take action to improve their financial lives.”



Because your credit report is the basis of your credit score, it’s important to check your credit report for errors because what’s on your credit report can have a huge impact on your life. It goes way beyond whether or not you can apply for a credit card or get a loan. 



Landlords, employers, utility companies, you name it use the credit report to examine your payment history.  And unfortunately there are often mistakes and errors on the report. 

So make sure that everything on the report is accurate.  If details are wrong, if debts are listed incorrectly, if it shows that you owe money when you don’t, dispute the errors.

Continue → How to Improve Your Credit to find out exactly what to do.


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Barbara Nevins Taylor

As the winner of 22 Emmy Awards and a slew of journalism honors and awards, I created to give you the straight story about complicated stuff. Tell us what you want to know and we'll get you the answers.