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The term "credit report" refers to the accumulated credit information or the credit history of the consumer. This encompasses a broad spectrum of information concerning credit accounts and issues relating to payment or non-payment of these accounts, including matters of public record such as liens, bankruptcy and even arrests. Credit records are used to make decisions relating to the extension or not of credit, to rates of interest offered to the consumer on purchases or loans and even in the making of decisions that are on the surface not related to credit standing, like in the case of credit reports that are requested by potential employers. Financial planners and government officials suggest that the consumer is best served by maintaining accurate information concerning credit records. This is because being familiar with credit report information offers the consumer a measure of protection against errors and credit fraud, such as identity theft.

A credit report is the foundation of your financial reputation in the world of business, which includes mortgage companies and other potential lenders. Credit can be an essential building block to financial security. This means that knowing and understanding what is contained in their own credit report should be a priority to each individual. In order to achieve a full understanding, having all relevant information is necessary. There are three major credit reporting agencies, Experian, Trans Union and Equifax. Because they do not share or exchange information, it is necessary to view information from all three of these companies. This can be done in a single report, called a 3-in-1, a 3-bureau, or a triple-merged credit report. In addition to informing the consumer by listing all those who have reviewed it, the credit report provides information concerning the status of credit accounts or loans, credit limits, payment patterns, monetary judgments, liens and bankruptcy.

An online credit report refers to one that is obtained via the Internet. Sources for these are numerous, and many of these sources are associated with sites that offer credit counselling services. Because the consumer will be providing sensitive personal information, the security and quality of the sites offering credit reports should be ascertained to the greatest degree possible. With that understood, there are definite advantages to receiving an online credit report. The primary advantage, naturally, is that of speed. Because the credit report is the primary factor in decisions by lenders, banks and credit card companies, having full and accurate information about all credit report information is essential to even the most basic of functions in the business world. The ability to obtain such information through the Internet greatly facilitates consumer access to such valuable and important information. In addition, this allows the consumer to keep a close eye on credit status, catching any errors before they can have long-term negative effects.

An Instant Credit Report is a credit report that is immediately available on line. There are a variety of companies that offer this service. However, the consumer should do a bit of research to determine the integrity of the site and the quality of the report. With that understood, this easy access to consumer credit reports provides an excellent opportunity for the consumer to follow the advice of financial planners and government officials. Frequent review of current and complete credit reports is a valued security measure, in addition to assuring the consumer of detecting any errors before they are able to negatively influence credit reports. In fact, many of the same companies that offer instant credit reports also offer credit report monitoring services. For a fee, the company will monitor the consumer's credit reports, sending an e-mail if any significant changes are detected. Instant credit reports can be a valuable tool for the consumer in credit management.

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