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Credit reports can contain a lot of payment-related information that can help or hurt your credit.
Payment information in your credit reports can have a significant impact on your credit scores. Payment data include information such as on-time or late payments. If you suspect information is missing, you may want to do a little digging to figure out where the problem lies.
It may be that your creditor doesn’t report data to the three major consumer credit bureaus – TransUnion, Equifax and Experian. Or there could be a mistake at the credit bureau, or between the credit bureau and the service you’re using to review your credit reports.
Here’s what to do if you think there’s missing payment information on your credit reports, and why that might be.
What to do if information is missing
If you’ve spotted missing payment information from a credit report, your next steps may depend on your credit scores and what type of information is missing.
VantageScore® Solutions and FICO®, which create widely used credit-scoring models, both list payment history as the most important factor in determining a consumer’s credit scores.
Having multiple accounts, including credit cards and installment loans, with a long history of on-time payments can help you build good credit. Missing payments can hurt your scores.
If you have great credit
If you’ve regularly been making on-time payments for years and already have excellent credit, it might not be worth your time to do anything if an account or single on-time payment is missing from a credit report.
If you’re working on building your credit
If you’re trying to build credit and want to make sure all your payments get reported to the three bureaus, try to determine why the payment information isn’t in a report. Start by reaching out to the creditor and confirm that it reports to the bureau.Keep reading: How to build credit from scratch
If your creditor doesn’t want to report your payment information to the credit bureaus, they’re not required to. You may want to consider switching to a different creditor if you want future payments to be reported to all three bureaus.
If your reports are missing information about a late payment
On the other hand, if a late payment or other derogatory mark is missing from your credit reports, you might not want to do anything. Adding this info may make your reports more complete, but it can also hurt your credit scores. (Although you should consider disputing incorrect derogatory marks.)
Why does information go missing?
Here are four reasons why a credit report might be missing payment information.
1. Your creditor doesn’t report to all three bureaus
Creditors, including credit card issuers, banks and credit unions, aren’t required to report your payments to the credit bureaus. Some may report information to just one or two, and others may not report to any bureaus.
This could explain why you see an account on one report, but can’t find it on another. John Danaher, president of consumer interactive at TransUnion, suggests consumers check their credit reports from each bureau every six to 12 months.
“Ensure the information is accurate and up to date, since information from separate reports can vary,” says Danaher.
2. There was a mistake
It’s possible that your payment information didn’t make it to the credit bureaus or there was a problem with the data.
Danaher says this can happen because “the creditor may have missed payment data in their reporting cycle, or the data contributor may experience input formatting issues, which leads to missing or rejecting trade lines.”
3. There’s a missed connection
Something could also go awry in the connection between the bureau and the platform you’re using to review your credit report. Getting a copy of your credit report directly from the credit bureau could help determine if this may be the issue.
4. The data was removed from your report
Danaher says another possibility is that the payment information was removed as a result of a dispute. For example, if you disputed an account and it was removed from your report, the related payment information would also be removed.
Where to find payment information on your credit reports
“Payment history is included in the account information section,” says Danaher. “[It] includes an inventory of open and closed accounts and records of both on-time and late payments.”
You may also find a section on your report with all your public records, which may include payment-related information, such as bankruptcies, tax liens and foreclosures.
Your on-time and late payments are tied to a specific credit account, also known as a trade line.
The monthly payments you make may be listed by year and month. For payments each month, you may see:
- “OK,” a code or a symbol that represents an on-time payment.
- If you were late with a payment, different codes indicate how many days late you were. These can range from 30 to 180-plus days late. There could also be codes that show how many times you were past due on your account.
- An indication if you defaulted on the loan, your account was charged off or if it was sent to collections
- For securitized loans, such as an auto loan, there may be a code indicating that your property was repossessed
The codes or symbols that appear can vary depending on where you get your credit report. If you order a copy directly from a credit bureau, check the bureau’s website for guides on how to read the report. Third-party sites, like Credit Karma, may add user-friendly overlays to the data to make it easier to read and understand.Read more: How long do late payments stay on my credit report?
Your credit report could be missing payment information for various reasons, including the fact that creditors don’t have to report to the credit bureaus. However, an account or payment not showing up on one of your credit reports isn’t necessarily a cause for concern.