Overview of the Personal Credit Report [for 2017]

According to Vantage Score, the vast majority of Americans don’t understand many of the nuances of a personal credit report. Your personal credit report is being updated for you by the three major personal credit reporting agencies of Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion, any time one of the following occurs:

  • A job is added or terminated
  • A residence is added or terminated
  • An installment loan is opened, paid, or removed
  • A revolving credit line is opened, paid, or removed
  • Average credit age changes
  • Average credit utilization
  • Credit payment history changes
  • A credit inquiry is added or removed
  • Public records are added, paid, or removed
(Image: iStock/AndreyPopov)



Your Personal Credit Score Is Weighted on the Following:

  • Your payment history along with the presence of any public records: 35%
  • The outstanding amounts you owe, along with current credit utilization: 30%
  • The length of time you’ve had the loans/credit lines: 15%
  • The moment a new loan or credit line is opened: 10%
  • Your current mix of loans and credit lines: 10%

Types of Personal Credit Scores/Measurements


In terms of the types of Personal Credit Scores, you have the standard reporting system from Fair Isaac Corporation (known as FICO) with about 50 different types of scores. Then, you have the Vantage Score, which is provided for educational purposes to consumers from many credit card issuers along with platforms such as Credit Karma. You can obtain a free, full copy of your personal credit report and three bureau scores, once per year, from www.annualcreditreport.com. In terms of quality measurement, scores range from 300 to 850 and:

  • A score under 579 is considered Poor
  • A score between 580 and 669 is considered Fair
  • A score between 670 and 739 is considered Good
  • A score between 740 and 799 is considered Very Good
  • A score between 800 and 850 is considered Excellent

Public Records


Having public records such as a foreclosure, tax lien, judgment, or bankruptcy on your report will bring down your score. These items generally remain on your report for the following duration:

  • Foreclosures: 7 years
  • Tax Liens: 7 to 15 years depending upon when paid
  • Judgments: 7 years
  • Ch. 13 Bankruptcies: 7 years
  • Ch. 7 Bankruptcies: 10 years

However, new reporting standards were released in Summer 2017 for both tax liens and civil judgments. Going forward, for either a tax lien or civil judgment to be reported on a personal credit report, the reporting must include your name, address, Social Security number, and date of birth. In addition, there are now required courthouse visits to be completed, in order to obtain newly filed and updated records at least every 90 days. These new reporting standards would remove virtually all civil judgments that have occurred up until this point, along with certain tax liens as well.


Credit Repair and Maintaining Good Credit


The FTC warns that consumers should avoid many credit repair companies, as they usually charge exorbitant prices with deceitful promises of fixing your credit seemingly overnight. The truth is, the only way to “fix your credit” is the following (all of which you can do yourself):

  • Work To Remove Negative Information: All late payments and other negative information needs to be paid as soon as you can. You might be able to contact the creditor to negotiate a lower lump sum payment amount. Also, examine your credit report to determine if there’s something that doesn’t belong there, if something is reported incorrectly, etc. If so, file a dispute with the bureaus directly. By law, they must respond within 30 days:
  • Work To Establish Positive Information: You need to establish “positive payment history,” which means you need to add new installment loans and revolving credit lines, pay them off on time going forward, and make sure to never miss a payment.
  • Personal Credit Maintenance: Continue to maintain positive payment history by adding additional revolving credit lines and installment loans until you have a good “mix” (I recommend, at least 10 listings) that are reporting positive payment history. Make sure to continue making all payments on time and never miss a payment. Also, make sure to continue monitoring your credit report using sources such as Credit Karma, to make sure nothing is placed there that shouldn’t be.