Most people are vaguely aware that information contained in their consumer reports impacts their ability to get credit. People typically do not know the specific information in these reports that can affect them , or exactly how it can impact their financial future. Knowing this can help you take control of your finances, so you can build a solid financial strategy.

One of the most important pieces of information is the number of credit lines that you currently have open. The more companies you are financially indebted to, the higher risk you pose to potential lenders. If you are juggling numerous loans, cards, and other debts, lenders see you as more likely to default on a loan.

The amount of debt you owe to each lender is also critically important. Keep in mind that not all debts are considered equal. Owing $150,000 on a mortgage is not a big deal to a potential lender, but owing $10,000 on a revolving line can easily raise a red flag. If you have several cards with high balances, you may find it very difficult to obtain a loan.

Your payment history is another piece of information that can dramatically affect your finances. A lender may be willing to forgive a few late payments on a revolving line, but consistently late payments can cause significant problems. A missed mortgage payment is a much larger issue – if you have been late on your mortgage even once, many lenders will not be willing to consider you for a loan. If a debt shows as “charged off” on your report, your chances of obtaining credit sink even further.

Finally, public records disclosed on your report will have a major impact on your finances. If you have declared bankruptcy, had a home foreclosure, or incurred a lien on your property, your financial situation can become very bleak. Not only will you have trouble getting a loan, but you will find it very difficult to get a good job or rent an apartment.

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