Chapter 7 focuses on understanding your credit report. Abagnale begins the chapter with a story of his
son who discovered two fraudulent accounts in his credit report, one that would have been opened
when he was eight years old and one Discover card that he never had. He recounted the arduous task of
removing that accounts from his son’s credit report. Abagnale points out that a person’s credit report
and credit score are critically important in obtaining loans for houses, cars and other assets, when
applying to colleges, and in the workforce. Yet, surprisingly, a recent study by the Federal Reserve
showed that 70 percent of credit reports contain a mistake. Abagnale’s take home message from the
chapter is to frequently check your credit report, which can be done free once a year from each credit
bureau (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion).
Each person’s credit report contains four sections: 1) Identifying information; 2) Credit History; 3) Public
Records; and 4) Inquiries. The identifying information contains basic personal information including a
person’s name, social security number, and address. Credit history includes a history of a person’s
accounts and balances, credit limits, reliability of payments, etc. These play a large role in determining
a person’s credit score, which ranges from 300 (worst possible) to 850 (best possible) and is vital in
determining whether a person is approved for credit. The third section is blank for many people as it
includes information, if applicable, about bankruptcy, tax liens, overdue child support, etc. The inquiries
section contains information of all those who have requested your credit report.
Abagnale concludes the chapter by saying “credit history should be handled by a government agency,
not by a profit-making organization” (p. 158). Why does he say this? Do you agree? Why or why not?