A credit report summarizes a person's credit history. The information stated in the report includes the following:
- Social security number
- Residency address history
- Employment history
- High account balances
- Credit limits granted
- On-time payments and late payments
- The number of times a loan payment was missed
- Bankruptcy petitions
- Tax liens
Credit reports are compiled by credit bureaus, which sell the reports to creditors and lenders that want to investigate the credit histories of existing and prospective customers. The largest credit bureaus are Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Credit bureaus are required by the Fair Credit Reporting Act to issue consumers a free copy of their credit report once a year, if requested.
The negative information in a credit report is expunged after seven years have passed, to protect an individual from an adverse credit event that occurred a long time ago. Bankruptcy information is expunged after 10 years.