What is a credit report?

Be it opening an account, applying for a loan, looking for a flat or leasing a car: There are many cases in which a self-disclosure is required. This self-disclosure is an assessment of your creditworthiness. This assessment is made by credit agencies and is actually called a credit report.

Contents: The Essence at a Glance:
What Is a Credit Report? A credit report allows your contractual partner to assess the risk of payment default.
What Is in a Credit Report? The credit agency provides a score value that classifies the risk for the contractual partner. It gives the seller or lender an insight into how the customer behaves when making payments.
What Does a Credit Report Cost? The credit report is a product of the credit agency and is therefore usually subject to a fee.

What Is a Credit Report? | Definition

The credit report gives an overview of your creditworthiness and allows your contractual partner to assess the risk of payment default, for example with regard to whether you are solvent and therefore creditworthy or not. Banks, car dealers or landlords can use the credit report to get an idea of your payment behaviour as a customer or tenant and thus more easily assess whether the financial risk of entering into a contract with you is acceptable or not. In the best case, the credit report will help you to convince your future contractual partner of your creditworthiness.

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The credit report can therefore be decisive for the question whether a contract is concluded.

What Is in a Credit Report?

Credit agencies have the possibility to request data from the contracting parties of their clientele – such as mobile phone providers or banks.

For a meaningful credit report, the credit agency relies on various criteria to check creditworthiness and collects different personal data on previous payment behaviour. For example, personal data on your previous credit, mobile phone and leasing contracts or the present number of your current accounts are used. It is checked how your payment behaviour has been so far and whether you have already had payment difficulties, for example whether collection proceedings are pending against you.

The personal data collected result in the so-called score value. This value shows, for example, how well you meet your financial obligations. It classifies the financial risk of default, i.e. how likely it is that you will not pay.

With credit reports, there is not only black and white, because the score value ranges on a scale of, for example, 0 to 100 percent and can be measured differently depending on the credit agency. It is therefore also possible to have a credit rating that is not very good, but still sufficient. Depending on the contractual partner, a loan or leasing contract may be approved in such a case, but perhaps at significantly worse conditions.

Positive Credit Rating

Buyers or tenants often read the phrase "creditworthiness required" or "a positive credit rating is required". This usually means that you have to achieve a score that can be regarded as sufficient to even be considered as a future contractual partner.

Negative Credit Rating

An unpaid invoice does not immediately lead to a negative credit report. However, if you continuously ignore invoices and reminders from your contractual partners or the debt collection companies they subsequently commission, and if this even leads to an enforcement order or a court decision, then this can certainly result in a submission to a credit agency. Every data delivery to a credit agency can have an influence on the so-called score value of the credit report. With a negative credit report, even the conclusion of a mobile phone or rental contract can become a problem. 

Have you received a negative credit report and subsequently been refused the loan you applied for? Then it is time to get your financial situation in order. You should not be blinded by tempting offers for quick loans without a credit check. If your creditworthiness is not assessed before concluding the loan agreement, you will only receive the loan at unfavourable conditions, which you might then have to struggle with for quite a while. A loan granted in the short term without a prior credit check may seem like a quick solution to your problems, but it can end in financial disaster in the long run.

What Is the Difference between a Credit Report and a Data Disclosure?

The so-called data disclosure according to Art. 15 of the EU General Data Protection Regulation – GDPR for short – is much more comprehensive than the credit report. It contains a complete overview of all personal data about you that is processed by the data controller. For reasons of data protection, therefore a data disclosure can only be requested by you yourself from a company, such as a credit agency.

How Much Does a Credit Report Cost?

A credit report is a product of a credit agency and is therefore usually subject to a fee.
Depending on which service you choose from the credit agency in question, you may incur different costs.

Who Offers Credit Reports?

Anyone who wants to request information about their creditworthiness can contact a credit agency. Credit agencies are not – as is often wrongly assumed – state authorities, but commercial enterprises.

Online Credit Report

It is customary to send the credit report by mail. However, online credit reports are becoming more and more widespread. You can not only apply for it online, but it will also be sent to you in digital form or made available online for you to view. Whether the credit report can be requested online or only by mail depends on the respective credit agency.

Conclusion

A credit report is an assessment of your creditworthiness. That is why banks, landlords and other contractual partners use it to assess your financial risk of default. You should therefore always keep an eye on your income and expenses so that your credit report shows as positive a score value as possible. If you always pay on time and stay on top of your expenses, you have little to fear.