Credit history or credit report is, in many countries, a negative record of an individual's 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 to determine an individual's credit worthiness; that is, determining an individual's ability and track record of repaying 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 regularly and on time, and therefore focus particularly on missed payments and may not, for example, consider an overpayment as an offset for a missed payment.
There has been much discussion over the accuracy of the data in consumer reports. In general, industry participants maintain that the data in credit reports is very accurate. 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 the United States Congress that less than two percent of those reports that resulted in a consumer dispute had data deleted because it was in error. Nonetheless, there is widespread concern that information in credit reports is prone to error. Thus Congress has enacted a series of laws aimed to resolve both the errors and the perception of errors.
If a US 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.
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 by a history of regular, unmissed payments.
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.
Read more about Credit History: Calculating A Credit Rating, Acquiring and Understanding Credit Reports and Scores, Credit History of Immigrants, Adverse Credit, Consequences, More Than One Credit History Per Person, Abuse
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