Private Information You Won’t Find on a Credit Report

Fifty years ago, when credit bureaus were local, almost anything could be in your credit file. In fact, credit bureau employees were paid to scan the local newspapers to gather information that the credit bureaus thought potential creditors had a right to know.

That might include anything from a drunk driving arrest to a divorce proceeding to a lawsuit over a property line. It might show that your spouse passed away or that you were hospitalized after a heart attack.

In short, your credit file was a gross invasion of privacy.

But that invasion of privacy is no more. Here’s a quick run-down on the personal information that your creditors and would-be creditors will no longer find on your credit report:

Your employment status. If you’ve lost your job recently, potential creditors won’t find out from your report.

Your credit report may list current and past employers – if you’ve listed them on credit applications. But it won’t show employment dates, or if that employment has been terminated.

Your income. This item was dropped back in the early 1990’s. Now your credit report won’t show income from your employment, unemployment benefits, alimony, child support or public assistance. Individual creditors will ask, of course.

Your arrest record. Credit reports today deal only with financial obligations. So if you were arrested for shoplifting or underage drinking as a teen, don’t worry.

The only time legal matters show up on credit reports is when they involve liens and judgments.

That means child support payments will show up as a debt, and if you’re given a fine and don’t pay it, it could show up as a collection. However, the reason for the debt will not be revealed.

Medical information: The Fair Credit Reporting Act prohibits credit bureaus from listing any information on your report that jeopardizes your medical privacy.

That means that in most cases, medical debt will not show up unless it goes to collections. Even then, it is listed merely as “medical debt” and no details are given. Often, doctors wishing to adhere strictly to privacy rules will report those debts under a company name that “does not appear to be medical.”

Your marital status: Contrary to what many believe, married couples don’t share joint credit scores. You each have your own. However, if you live in a community property state and your spouse defaults on his or her individual debts, those debts could be considered yours also. In that case, a collection action for the debts, could show up on your credit report.

Note: While credit reports lenders use will not show your spouse’s name, some versions will. Thus, the credit report you pull yourself may very well list your spouse.

Signs of a cash crunch: If you’ve gotten into a bind and had to take drastic measures to meet some obligations, don’t worry.

Your creditors won’t know if you’ve taken out a payday loan, pawned some valuables, or signed for a title loan on your car. If you default on one of those loans, that will show up on your credit report, but as long as you make repayment, no one will be the wiser.

Late payment of utility bills: This one depends upon your utility company, but in most cases, your late payment won’t show unless it goes into collection. The reason is that most smaller utilities don’t want to pay the fees associated with reporting to the credit bureaus.

Your net worth: What you’re worth is nobody’s business, so assets you own outright will never show on your credit report. This includes your bank accounts, stocks, bonds, and real estate you own with no mortgage. Even if you do have a mortgage, the value of your home will not be listed.

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Disclaimer: This information has been compiled and provided by as an informational service to the public. While our goal is to provide information that will help consumers to manage their credit and debt, this information should not be considered legal advice. Such advice must be specific to the various circumstances of each person's situation, and the general information provided on these pages should not be used as a substitute for the advice of competent legal counsel.