- Your credit report is a compilation of financial data submitted to credit bureaus by lenders, other creditors and, in the case of court proceedings, courthouses. Bureaus maintain a database of this data and distill it into a credit report that changes depending upon the change in submitted information. The report contains account data, such as account numbers and payment history, as well as personal information, including Social Security number, date of birth and current address.
- The report lists your credit accounts one by one. Creditors only submit an account once on your credit report. If you have a credit card and a loan from the same lender, it may appear to be the same but the account numbers will be different. If, however, a collection agency is hired to collect on a delinquent account or if you have an account that is sold to a collection agency, that agency places a collection account for that debt on your credit report. This account reflects the same information that is listed in the account submitted by the original creditor, including amounts owed.
- An account can appear on your credit report in another way. If you have an unpaid debt, the original creditor or the collection agency may elect to sue you in civil court. If the court issues a judgment against you, that judgment appears on your credit report as a public record. It indicates the name of the creditor who obtained the judgment and the judgment amount, which may or may not be higher than the original debt amount listed under the original creditor's account found on your report.
- Although original creditors only list the account once, mistakes do happen. According to Bankrate, you should review your report for duplicate accounts. If you have the same account from a creditor listed twice on your report, and it is not a separate collection account, you can file a dispute with the bureaus to have the duplicate removed. Disputes are filed online at the bureau's website, or by phone or mail using the toll-free number and address found on your credit report. The bureau has up to 30 days to investigate your dispute and delete the item, if warranted.