“John, I have a credit card that is not appearing on my credit report. How can I get the account added?”
You know that part of managing your credit is ensuring that the information reflected in your credit reports is accurate, but what if you notice that not all of your accounts are reflected on all three of your Equifax, Experian and TransUnion credit reports? Legally, it’s a creditor’s right to report to any or all bureaus– or not. So while not seeing an account reflected on a report is possible—it doesn’t necessarily mean there’s an error.
Usually, you’ll see these types of debt-related accounts on your credit report: Loans and lines of credit related to your mortgage, auto, student or personal loans, credit, gas and charge cards, accounts that have gone to collections (including unpaid medical bills), and public records like bankruptcy, liens, judgments. What’s usually not on your credit report? Utilities, cable, and cell phone accounts, and insurers.
While it may sound unfair that you pay your bills and get none of the “credit” of your positive financial behavior reflected on your credit report, the fact of the matter is, reporting is up to the creditor. Some simply don’t want to incur the costs associated with providing accurate information to the bureaus—and responding to disputes. Others may want to protect customer data from competitors.
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Whether omitted credit activity impacts your credit score depends on your objectives, and financial situation. In the case of a home loan application, for example, lenders know that your credit reports vary by bureau. Typically, they’ll consider these variances in the bureau information and related credit score for balanced decision-making, often by taking the average, or “middle score,” for example.
You can ask the credit bureau, or the lender, to report the information to the bureau(s), but ultimately it’s their choice. Your best bet as a consumer is to be informed. Ask lenders which credit bureaus they report to before you open the line of credit, if their reporting practices are a key factor to your objectives. This is the best way to ensure that your payment history and responsible management of a credit obligation is reported to the credit reporting agencies.
Most consumers don’t realize that you can ask a lender if they choose to report their information to the credit bureaus. It’s not a huge secret and most of them will gladly tell you if they report and to whom they report account information.
That said, don’t disregard your obligation to lenders who don’t report. If you fail to make payments and your delinquent account gets turned over to a collections agency, they may indeed report to the bureaus. The negative event could appear on your credit report for the next seven years. There’s no language in any Federal law, including the Fair Credit Reporting Act, that requires a lender to report anything to the credit reporting agencies.