What is a Credit Report?

By Melissa Cook Reviewed by Minh Tong Updated Nov 21, 2022
What is a Credit Report?

A credit report is a detailed record of an individual’s credit history, including their past and current loans and payment habits. This information is used by lenders to determine an individual’s creditworthiness when applying for loans or other forms of credit.

It is important to regularly review your credit report for accuracy as mistakes can potentially impact your ability to obtain credit. By law, individuals are entitled to one free annual credit report from each of the three major reporting agencies: Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax.

It is also crucial to protect your personal information as identity theft can result in fraudulent activity appearing on your credit report. Taking steps such as regularly monitoring accounts and utilizing strong passwords can help safeguard against unauthorized access to your information.

How to dispute a credit report

  1. Request a copy of your credit report from the appropriate agency or agencies.
  2. Carefully review the report for any errors or discrepancies.
  3. Gather supporting documentation that may assist in resolving the dispute, such as a canceled check or letter from a creditor confirming payment in full.
  4. Submit a dispute with the reporting agency(s) via mail, phone, or online form, providing detailed information about the error and including any supporting documentation.
  5. The agency has 30 days to investigate and respond to the dispute, potentially removing inaccurate information from your credit report if it cannot be verified.
  6. It is also important to contact the source of the disputed information directly and inform them of the error.


If the dispute is not resolved to your satisfaction, you have the option to include a statement in your credit report that explains the issue. This may assist potential lenders in understanding any disputed information on your credit report.

It is important to ensure the accuracy of your credit report as it can have a significant impact on your ability to obtain credit and financial opportunities. By taking steps to review and dispute incorrect information, you can work towards having a positive and accurate representation of your credit history.

How long do hard inquiries stay on your credit report?

Hard inquiries, or those made when you apply for credit, typically stay on your credit report for about two years. However, they typically only impact your credit score for a period of twelve months.  It is important to note that regularly applying for new lines of credit can impact your credit score and may indicate risk to lenders.  As such, it is important to only apply for necessary loans and lines of credit and be mindful of the number of hard inquiries appearing on your credit report.  Additionally, certain actions taken in response to identity theft or inaccurate information may result in the removal of hard inquiries from your credit report.  Be sure to review your credit report regularly and dispute any errors or fraudulent activity promptly.

How long do late payments stay on your credit report?

Late payments can remain on your credit report for seven years. However, their impact on your credit score and ability to obtain credit will decrease over time. It is important to make all loan and credit card payments on time to maintain a positive payment history, which makes up a significant portion of your credit score. If you experience difficulty making timely payments, reach out to your lender to discuss options such as a payment plan or temporary hardship program.  Taking proactive steps to address any late payments can help demonstrate responsible financial behavior and work towards improving your credit standing.


Keeping track of your credit report and taking steps to protect it can help you maintain a positive credit standing and ultimately make it easier to obtain credit in the future. Speak with an Americor professional today for help with debt management. Continue reading with what is a a FICO score.


Melissa Cook

Melissa has a degree in English and marketing from University of California Irvine. She is a creative and accomplished content writer and editor with comprehensive experience developing rich, compelling content for a variety of websites. With her expertise in writing a broad range of content, combined with outstanding interpersonal skills and commitment to exploring innovative ideas, Melissa has done an excellent job developing content for blogs, articles, social media, and the company website. When she is not writing, Melissa spends most of her time cooking, traveling the world, and catching her favorite Broadway shows.