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How to Read Credit Reports From Each of The Three Bureaus

Written by Elizabeth Whited on Monday, 13 January 2014 12:51 pm
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Can you say you're completely confident reading each of the different credit reports with their key codes? If you aren't, this article can serve as a good training guide for your staff on the differences of each of the three credit bureau's credit reports.

Or in case your tenant screening company says they provide you with credit reports, when in reality they only provide you with credit summaries, these guides and codes will come in handy.

First and foremost: when reading a credit report, double check the person's full name, social security number, and their date of birth. If there are any discrepancies, be sure to check with the applicant.

Keep in mind that the information obtained in credit reports isn't always perfect.

The credit bureaus search for input information on two out of those three information fields mentioned above, to avoid human error. Credit bureaus can either input, or are sometimes given incorrect information.

Equifax and TransUnion Credit Report Quick Look Guide:

  • Personal Information
  • Report Summary
  • Scorecards (if a score is given in the report)
  • Collections (if the applicant has any)
  • Public Records (if the applicant has any)
  • Tradelines (this includes both loan and revolving debt payments)
  • Inquiries (how many times a report has been pulled – and from whom)
  • Warning Messages

Experian Credit Report Quick Look Guide:

  • Index
  • Potentially Negative Items (public records, if the applicant has any)
  • Credit Items
  • Collections (if the applicant has any)
  • Accounts in Good Standing
  • Requests for Credit History
  • Personal Information

The credit sections of each report use a different set of codes in order to keep the report short, when showing payment patterns. The starting dates for trade lines for Equifax and Experian begin in the month reported, while TransUnion's begins on the payment pattern start date (see each code key below).

If your applicant believes an error has occurred in their report, advise them to contact the credit bureau directly (contact information is located below). When reviewing credit reports to determine if your applicant will be a good fit for your rental property make sure you know how to read them carefully, and always, always, always perform due diligence on the information you find.


Contact Info:

Trans Union
P. O. Box 1000
Chester, PA. 19022
1-800-888-4213
http://www.transunion.com/personal-credit/credit-disputes/credit-disputes.page

Equifax
PO Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
1-800-685-1111
https://experian.referral.equifax.com/CreditInvestigation/home.action

Experian
475 Anton Blvd.
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
1-714-830-7000
http://www.experian.com/credit-advice/topic-disputing-information.html

About the Author: Elizabeth Whited is the Operations Coordinator at the Rent Rite Directory. She has written educational articles for multifamily magazines and Real Estate websites to help Property Managers and Owners improve their properties, in an effort to reduce crime in their communities. The Rent Rite Directory educates Property Managers and Owners at Crime Watch Meetings, and Crime Free Association Conferences, and works closely with law enforcement nationwide. For more information, visit http://www.therrd.com.
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