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Things That Should Appear In Your Credit Reports

Your credit reports contain useful information that paints a picture of your “creditworthiness.” But, like any type of report, credit reports don’t tell a reader the complete story about you, your life, or how you’re living it. For that, they’ll have to read your autobiography. 

Test your knowledge on credit reports and the types of information they contain by going through 10 quick scenarios and deciding whether the information resulting from each should, or should not, appear in your credit reports.

 

1. You order one of those mail-in DNA kits, and the results reveal that you’re 27% Native American—a shocker given you grew up believing your ancestors were from France and you spent years assembling an impressive beret collection. You wonder if you need to contact the credit bureaus with this new information or if the DNA lab will alert them.

 

Yes, this information should appear in my credit reports
or
No, this information should not appear in my credit reports

 

ANSWER: NO!

A person’s race or ethnicity does not appear in their credit reports.1 So go ahead and brag to your friends that the blood of America’s original inhabitants courses through your veins, but know that creditors and potential lenders will not see any information about your racial or ethnic background in your credit reports.

1. https://www.credit.com/credit-scores/what-is-not-in-your-credit-score/

 

2. Growing up as a child reality-TV star on one of those shows about a homesteading family living off the grid has instilled you with a great reverence for electricity. Now—as an adult who owns a modern on-the-grid condo purchased with show residuals—you make darn sure your payments to the electric company are on time, every time. You figure your perfect payment history not only keeps the lights on but also looks great in your credit reports.

 

Yes, this information should appear in my credit reports
or
No, this information should not appear in my credit reports

 

ANSWER: NO!

Great job on your stellar payment history to the electric company, but utility payments typically do not appear in credit reports.2 However, if you fail to pay your utility bills and the utility company sends your account to a collection agency, this most likely will show up in your credit reports.3 It’s also worth noting that certain score-boosting tools, like Experian Boost™, may include some utility accounts in credit reports to help consumers raise their credit scores.4

2. https://www.experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/does-paying-utility-bills-help-your-credit-score/

3. https://www.experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/credit-education/report-basics/how-and-when-collections-are-removed-from-a-credit-report/

4. https://www.experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/does-paying-utility-bills-help-your-credit-score/

 

3. While your boss vacations in Aruba, you pet-sit her temperamental hairless cat, Mimi, who swats at you every time you try to cover her shivering body with her blanket. Seven days and 70 scratches later, when your boss returns and picks up her “pwecious widdle baby,” she rewards you with a 10% raise. Although your claw-streaked arms look terrible, you take solace thinking your salary increase should make your credit reports look good.

 

Yes, this information should appear in my credit reports
or
No, this information should not appear in my credit reports

 

ANSWER: NO!

While your income is something most potential creditors will probably want to know before granting you credit, it is not something that appears in your credit reports.5 You’ll more likely report your income when you put it in a credit application. But first put some antibiotic ointment on those scratches—do you have any idea what types of bacteria live under a cat’s claws?! 

5. https://www.experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/income-not-part-of-credit-report-so-cannot-be-updated/

 

4. After an extensive search for a rental home with a porch ready-made for open-air banjo picking, you find one, sign the lease, and move in that day. A few evenings later, after crushing a rendition of Foggy Mountain Breakdown on “Old Blue” (your nickname for your ‘jo) for your duly impressed new neighbors, you call your credit card company with your new address so they can update their records.

 

Yes, this information should appear in my credit reports
or
No, this information should not appear in my credit reports

 

ANSWER: YES!

When your credit card company sends updates on your account activity to the credit bureaus, they should report your new address, which should then appear in your credit reports.6 So you can spend your time perfecting your bluegrass fingerpicking instead of on the phone with credit bureaus updating your personal information.

6. https://www.creditkarma.com/advice/i/update-personal-information-credit-report/

 

5. Your dream of becoming the next big internet sensation fizzles when you realize there isn’t a large enough audience to support a daily online show devoted entirely to couch pillows. So you cease production of Sofa, So Good: Pillow Talk, enroll at your local university, and take out student loans to finance a graduate degree in musical theater.

 

Yes, this information should appear in my credit reports
or
No, this information should not appear in my credit reports

 

ANSWER: YES!

Those student loans should show up in your credit reports.7 Even if you’re not obligated to pay them back until after you’re no longer enrolled in school, they may still appear in your credit reports because they’re considered debt you’re obligated to pay.8 But you’re not worried about repaying them right now because you’re far too busy adapting Sofa, So Good into a musical for your thesis project.

7. https://www.thebalance.com/do-student-loans-go-on-my-credit-report-795349

8. https://www.experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/student-loans-may-appear-in-credit-report-while-in-deferment/

 

6. You’re accidentally left behind on a deserted tropical island after modeling for an international swimsuit photo shoot. You don’t panic because there’s plenty of fresh water, coconuts, and shore crabs to survive on for the next three months, when the crew returns for reshoots. Then you realize you forgot to send in your credit card payment before leaving for the airport and it’s going to be at least three months late.

 

Yes, this information should appear in my credit reports
or
No, this information should not appear in my credit reports

 

ANSWER: YES!

Unless your stranding makes the headlines, your credit card company won’t know why you didn’t make your payment, but they will know that your payment is late, which they’ll likely report to the credit bureaus once it’s 30 days past the due date.9 You can always explain your situation after you’re rescued to see if they’ll remove the past-due information and any late fees or interest incurred. Just be convincing, because credit card companies have heard most every excuse in the book.

9. https://www.experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/when-do-late-payments-get-reported/

 

7. At your 10-year reunion, you run into your high school crush—the one who, as your chemistry partner, made you so nervous that you accidentally lit her hair on fire with a Bunsen burner. After apologizing profusely (again) for turning her perm into a pyre, she forgives you and the two of you fall in love and marry. The ceremony goes off without a hitch thanks to a ban on candles, propane patio heaters, and any other types of open flames.

 

Yes, this information should appear in my credit reports
or
No, this information should not appear in my credit reports

 

ANSWER: NO!

Your marital status does not appear in your credit reports. Neither does your spouse’s credit history; you will both continue to have separate credit reports.10 Marriage could, however, affect your credit reports two other ways:

  1. If you change your last name after marrying and report the name change to  your creditors, or apply for new credit with that name, it should be listed as a  name variation in your credit reports.
  2. If you open any joint accounts or take out any loans with your spouse, these should appear in both of your credit reports.11     

 

10. https://www.freecreditreport.com/blog/does-a-credit-report-show-whether-youre-married-or-not/

11. https://www.thebalance.com/how-marriage-affects-your-credit-960998

 

8. After reading Patrick Henry’s 1765 “taxation without representation” argument on the internet, you decide the federal government no longer represents your interests and it’s your patriotic duty to stop paying federal income tax. The IRS disagrees with your decision and files a lien against your home for back taxes, penalties, and interest they believe it’s your patriotic duty to pay.

 

Yes, this information should appear in my credit reports
or
No, this information should not appear in my credit reports

 

ANSWER: NO!

The good news is that, as of 2017, as part of the National Consumer Assistance Plan, tax liens are no longer reported by the three main credit bureaus, so this lien should not appear in your credit reports.13 The bad news is that the IRS isn’t likely to release that lien until you pay in full or reach a settlement with them.14 So you may want to seek “representation” of a different kind—in the form of a good tax attorney.

12. https://constitutioncenter.org/blog/250-years-ago-today-no-taxation-without-representation

13. https://www.creditkarma.com/tax/i/tax-liens-and-levies/

14. https://www.investopedia.com/terms/t/taxlien.asp

 

9. Even though you insist you’re not having a midlife crisis, you find yourself sitting in the finance office of an exotic car dealership, discussing the purchase of a sports car that does zero to 60 in 2.8 seconds. The finance manager assures you he can lock you into a “reasonable monthly payment” but first needs to check your credit. Believing him to be sincere when he says you test drove his last model in Envy Green so you need to act now, you give him permission to pull your credit report.

 

Yes, this information should appear in my credit reports
or
No, this information should not appear in my credit reports

 

ANSWER: YES!

A dealership doing a credit check on you for an auto loan is considered a “hard inquiry” and should show up in your credit reports.15 Should you actually sign on the dotted line, that auto loan will appear in your credit reports as one of your accounts, or tradelines.16 Should your spouse divorce you for not checking with them before making such an extravagant purchase, your new marital status will not appear in your credit report, as we learned in Question #7.         

15.      https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/finance/read-credit-report/

16.      https://www.thebalance.com/what-is-a-credit-report-tradeline-4584436

 

10. After 20 years of sitting in the same beige cubicle for a soulless mega corporation, you quit and go to work for a small mom-and-pop startup that produces sombreros for dogs. Your new dream gig at Perro Elegante combines two of your passions: preventing pet sunburns and helping canines express themselves via fashion-forward headwear.

 

Yes, this information should appear in my credit reports
or
No, this information should not appear in my credit reports

 

ANSWER: MAYBE!

The name of your new employer may show up in your credit reports, but typically only if you’ve provided it to one of your creditors, put it in a credit application, or let one or all of the credit bureaus know you’ve had a change in employment.17 But rest assured that the staff at Perro Elegante are occupying their time designing, manufacturing, and marketing stylish dog hats, not contacting credit bureaus with your updated employment information.18     

17. https://www.thebalance.com/what-s-in-your-credit-report-960514

18. https://www.experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/is-employment-listed-in-your-credit-report/

 

Congratulations, you’ve completed the quiz!

Now that you know a bit more about credit reports—or know that you knew quite a bit about them already—be sure to check out some of the additional content here at Credit One Central, your one-stop source for all things credit. 


About the author:

Sean P. Egen

After realizing he couldn’t pay back his outrageous film school student loans with rejection notices from Hollywood studios, Sean focused his screenwriting skills on scripting corporate videos. Videos led to marketing communications, which led to articles and, before he knew it, Sean was making a living as a writer. He continues to do so today by leveraging his expertise in credit, financial planning, wealth-building, and living your best life for Credit One Bank.




This material is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of a qualified tax advisor, attorney or financial advisor. Readers should consult with their own tax advisor, attorney or financial advisor with regard to their personal situations.


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