If you pay one of your credit accounts later than the due date—30 or more days late—the creditor might report the account as a “slow pay.” Read on to learn more general information about credit reports and how creditor notations, like slow pay, could affect your credit score.
Credit reports are statements that credit reporting agencies make to someone else about a consumer.
Information contained in credit reports. Credit reports normally include basic information about a consumer’s debts, creditworthiness, credit standing, credit capacity, character, general reputation, personal characteristics, or mode of living. (Get details about what’s in your credit report.)
Who prepares credit reports. Credit reporting agencies prepare credit reports based on information they get from your creditors. The three nationwide credit reporting agencies are Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Regional and small credit reporting agencies also produce reports, often based on information from one of the three nationwide credit reporting agencies. Certain nationwide specialty reporting agencies gather and report only particular types of information, like bad check writing or rental or medical histories.
Who uses credit reports. Lenders use credit reports—or the credit score that's generated from the data in the report—to help them decide whether to extend credit and, if so, under what terms. (Learn the difference between credit reports and credit scores.)
Creditors report missed payments as 30 days late, 60 days late, 90 days late, and the like to the credit reporting agencies. According to FICO—a credit scoring company—a person’s credit score drops about 50 to 100 points when the creditor reports the account as 30 days past due, and each subsequent delinquency lowers the score further.
While creditors generally report accounts as 30 days late or 60 days late, for example, if you consistently pay your bills late, creditors will also likely label you as a “slow pay” with a notation in the report. This notation will hurt your credit. Though, a couple of slow pay notations in your credit report are not nearly as damaging as a charge off, foreclosure, or bankruptcy. (Learn how a foreclosure or bankruptcy affects your credit score.)
To review what's in your credit reports, you may request a free copy from each of three nationwide credit reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion). Contact the Annual Credit Report Service at:
Be sure to use only the Annual Credit Report Service to get your free reports. Some for-profit companies use similar names and URLs to try to get you to pay for a credit report or other services. If a website says it provides free credit reports, beware. The “free” report often comes with strings attached, like a service that you have to pay for when the introductory period ends, and some sites collect personal information.
If you find incorrect information in the report, you can dispute the inaccuracies.