Your credit report is a history of your significant financial activities, and it provides a snapshot of your present financial status as well as behavioral patterns. In the United States, three main credit reporting agencies keep track of such data. The term FAD is used only by one of the agencies and refers to the date your file was last updated.
A credit report is essentially your financial score card. It includes your credit and loan histories, credit checks by lenders, defaults, bankruptcy filings, your credit limits and other information. Credit reports include most information for seven years and are updated periodically. The information in your credit report comes from financial institutions such as credit card issuers, lending institutions, banks and public records. The information is updated electronically once a month or sometimes more often, depending on the credit reporting agency.
Only three companies produce comprehensive credit reports in the United States: TransUnion, Equifax and Experian. If the amount of money you wish to borrow is relatively small, a lender may only check a report issued by one of these credit reporting bureaus. Most established lenders, such as major banks or financing arms of auto manufacturers that provide car loans, obtain a copy of your credit history from all three agencies and may study them in detail before approving a loan.
FAD is an abbreviation used by Equifax, one of the three major credit bureaus, and identifies the last date your file was updated. Ordinarily, this information is next to your name and starting date. The starting date refers to the date your file was established by Equifax. FAD, which stands for file activity date, simply shows the last update. You may also see an FN number on the same page. This is the Equifax internal file number and can be useful when trying to obtain copies of your credit report from Equifax.
Because your credit reports influence when you can borrow, how much you can borrow and what interest rate you will pay, it is important to check them periodically. Even if there have been no major financial events in your life in the recent past, you should review your credit reports from each of the three agencies at least once a year. You can obtain a free copy of your credit report from each bureau once a year through the AnnualCreditReport.com website. Should you detect an error, contact the appropriate bureau as soon as possible. Also, do not share your vital personal information unless necessary. The more often people and institutions needlessly access your records, the more opportunity there is for mistakes. Do not send your Social Security number and date of birth over unsecured Internet connections.
Hunkar Ozyasar is the former high-yield bond strategist for Deutsche Bank. He has been quoted in publications including "Financial Times" and the "Wall Street Journal." His book, "When Time Management Fails," is published in 12 countries while Ozyasar’s finance articles are featured on Nikkei, Japan’s premier financial news service. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Kellogg Graduate School.