A credit score is a summary of your credit history from the past seven years. It includes your borrowing and repayment information, as reported to the credit bureaus by lenders. Your credit report does not include your criminal record. Therefore, a misdemeanor will not affect your credit score. However, it could still keep you from getting a job or renting an apartment, as many employers and landlords run criminal checks, as well as credit checks.
Whenever you borrow money, whether a loan, a credit card, a mortgage or a cell phone contract, the lender will begin reporting about this to one or more credit bureaus. The credit bureaus collect this information and convert it into a three-digit credit score. The formula used to calculate the score is secret, but it includes the total amount you owe, your repayment behavior, the length of your credit history, types of credit you use, and the number of recent credit applications. When you want to borrow money, that lender will request your credit score from the credit bureaus. The score tells potential lenders whether you're a safe bet. The lower your score, the higher the risk for the lender. People with high credit scores find it easier and cheaper to borrow money.
What Is on Your Credit Report
Your credit report includes identifying information, such as your name, address, date of birth, driver's license number and Social Security number. It may have details of your employment. The report lists all your debts, including settled ones, from the past seven years. It includes any bankruptcies, financial court judgments and liens. If you've missed any payments or defaulted on a debt, it will be on your report.
What Is Not on Your Credit Report
Your credit report does not contain your criminal record. It also doesn't include any information on your income or any savings accounts you may have. There is no mention of your medical history, political affiliation, personal background, religious preference, sexual orientation or race.
Misdemeanors and Criminal Records
While it will not show up on your credit report, a misdemeanor will appear on your criminal record. There are no expiration dates for misdemeanors. They stay on your criminal record forever. Depending on your field of work, a misdemeanor can prevent you from getting a job. Many colleges also run criminal background checks on applicants. A misdemeanor will not stop you from getting a mortgage, but it can cause problems if you want to rent a place. If the misdemeanor is a one-off, you may be able to get your criminal record sealed. This is known as expungement, and the option is only available to first-time offenders.
- Federal Citizen Information Center: Your Credit Scores
- Federal Trade Commission: Building a Better Credit Report
- Indiana Department of Financial Institutions: Fair Credit Reporting
- Fair Isaac Corporation. "What is a Credit Score?" Accessed Oct. 11, 2020.
- VantageScore Solutions, LLC. "Who Uses Credit Scores?" Accessed Oct. 11, 2020.
- VantageScore Solutions, LLC. "Free Score Providers." Accessed Oct. 11, 2020.
- Fair Isaac Corporation. "What's In My FICO Scores?" Accessed Oct. 11, 2020.
R. Sinclair is a freelance copywriter and researcher. She writes about personal finance, health, technology and travel. Her work has been published in numerous magazines and on specialist websites.