How is a credit report like a movie?

by 03 Jan 2017

I have asked Chad Kusner to address this question for this week's Ask the Expert Column. Contact Chad Kusner at 888-927-7760 or [email protected].

My clients call and say they have already obtained their own credit report. Then I run their report and my results are significantly different. How do I make sense of it all?

— Allison from Indiana

In the world of credit reporting, the facts and figures behind the industry are complex and can be very confusing to those new to the subject matter. To best explain much of the content I teach, I use analogies to describe the functionality of credit reporting and scoring. One of the common misconceptions about credit is that we as consumers have a credit score that is "on file" in our record. I often hear people say "I have a 750 credit score" or "my score is 676 on Equifax." The reality is, these statements may technically be and are often inaccurate.

Truth be told, their credit scores may have been what they claim at the time the report was pulled, but it does not mean that at the time they claimed to know their scores they were accurate. See what I mean about confusing? This is why I use analogy and leads me to today's topic/analogy, "Your Credit Report: The Movie!”

Our credit reports are very much like a movie. The opening credits begin when we add our first account and begin our credit history. Throughout our lives our "credit movie" is always playing behind the scenes. Sometimes it may look like a comedy, an action movie, or sometimes it can be a tragedy. The type of movie playing depends on our personal spending habits and life events.

Much like a movie, no two credit reports are exactly the same. So what does this have to do with my credit score, you ask? Well, here we go. When you are watching a movie and hit pause, what happens? It freezes that frame at that exact moment and displays an image. What you see is what you get and you can only see what is on the screen at that exact moment. Fast forward 20 seconds and the view can be entirely different.

When a lender hits submit and requests a copy of your credit and scores, the same principle is applied. Whatever information is reporting on your credit file is freeze framed at that moment. What it looked like 24 hours ago has no meaning and of course we can't fast forward our credit as much as some would like to! More on the movie analogy next week.

Chad Kusner

Dave Hershman has been the leading author and a top speaker for the industry for decades with six books authored and hundreds of articles published. His website is If you have a reaction to this commentary or another question you would like answered in this column? Email Dave directly at [email protected].