Credit history or credit report is a record of an individual or company’s past borrowing and repaying, including information about late payments and bankruptcy. The term “credit reputation” can either be used synonymous to credit history or to credit score.
In the U.S., when a customer fills out an application for credit from a bank, store or credit card company; their information is forwarded to a credit bureau. The credit bureau matches the name, address and other identifying information on the credit applicant with information retained by the bureau in its files. That’s why it’s very important for creditors, lenders and others to provide accurate data to credit bureaus.
This information is used by lenders such as credit card companies, marketing companies, insurance companies and any other possible lender imaginable to determine an individual’s credit worthiness; that is, determining an individual’s willingness to repay a debt. The willingness to repay a debt is indicated by how timely past payments have been made to other lenders. Lenders like to see consumer debt obligations paid on a monthly basis.
There has been much discussion over the accuracy of the data in consumer reports. However, the only scientifically researched studies that include sample sizes large enough to be valid have generally concluded the data in credit reports is not very accurate. Of course the credit bureaus point to their own study of 52 million credit reports to highlight that the data in reports is very accurate. The Consumer Data Industry Association testified before Congress that less than two percent of those reports that resulted in a consumer dispute had data deleted because it was in error which we feel is completely false according to our experience.
If a consumer disputes some information in a credit report, the credit bureau has 30 days to verify the data. Over 70 percent of these consumer disputes are resolved within 14 days and then the consumer is notified of the resolution. The Federal Trade Commission states that one large credit bureau notes 95 percent of those who dispute an item seem satisfied with the outcome which we also feel is entirely inaccurate.
The other factor in determining whether a lender will provide a consumer credit or a loan is dependent on income. The higher the income, all other things being equal, the more credit the consumer can access. However, lenders make credit granting decisions based on both ability to repay a debt (income) and willingness (the credit report) as indicated in the past payment history.
These factors help lenders determine whether to extend credit, and on what terms. With the adoption of risk-based pricing on almost all lending in the financial services industry, this report has become even more important since it is usually the sole element used to choose the annual percentage rate (APR), grace period and other contractual obligations of the credit card or loan.