Credit check organizations collect credit information from lenders to help us get credit cards, mortgages, and other loans. These companies help to assess our creditworthiness and the likelihood of us paying our credit obligations on schedule. This information is then compiled and given to businesses who are interested in our credit history.
Find out more about credit bureaus and why they are so vital in our financial lives.
What is a Credit Check Organization?
Credit bureaus (also known as credit reporting agencies or CRAs) collect and keep consumer credit information. Three major CRAs are TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax in the United States.
Each one is a publicly traded and for-profit company. However, many smaller agencies, creditors, and lenders will most likely check your credit rating with one of these major CRAs.
Major CRAs have access to credit-related information from companies and lenders with which they do business. Lenders report on whether you pay your bills on time if you have ever defaulted completely, and how much you owe them.
Credit bureaus can also pull public records from local and state courts, such as tax liens or bankruptcy information. This information is also included in your credit reports.
Companies that need to prescreen customers for their products or services, and businesses with a legal basis for reviewing your information, can be sold to CRAs. A company you have applied for credit with would have a legitimate reason to review your credit history.
The 3 Major Credit Check Organizations
Find out more about Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion credit reporting agencies.
Equifax was founded in 1899 and has invested or is currently operating in 24 countries. It provides identity theft protection and credit fraud protection to its customers.
Additionally, it sells credit reports to companies. Credit monitoring services can be purchased by consumers that include Equifax credit scores (sometimes called beacon scores).
Equifax’s reputation was damaged in 2017 when it was attacked, and its data breach exposed the personal information of 147,000,000 consumers.
Equifax now has a tool on its website that allows you to check if you have been affected. Equifax also offered a free credit monitoring service for consumers whose data was compromised.
Experian was founded in London by businessmen who began sharing information on customers who had not paid their bills. In 1826, these people founded the Manchester Guardian Society.
Experian later became an integral part. Experian has more than 17.800 employees in 45 countries. Forbes named Experian one of the “World’s Most Innovative Companies” in 2018.
Experian offers a CreditWorks Premium subscription plan that uses the FICO8 credit score calculation method. Subscriptions for $24.99 per month will get you your credit score and credit report from all three agencies.
TransUnion was established in 1968 as a holding company to support a tank car business. Later, it expanded into credit reporting. The company’s database contains over 1 billion consumers from more than 30 countries.
TransUnion can place a freeze on your TransUnion credit reports if you are concerned that you have been the victim of identity theft.
TransUnion will also notify the two other CRAs of the fact that you have done this. A credit monitoring subscription can be purchased for $24.95 per month.
How Credit Check Organizations are Regulated
The Fair Credit Reporting Act is a federal law that regulates the operation of these credit bureaus and other credit reporting agencies. Because they have sensitive information that millions of people use, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) monitors them.
Credit reporting agencies only offer information and tools that help businesses decide whether or not to give you credit. The bureaus do not make these decisions.
Credit Check Organizations: Why your information and score may differ
Although credit bureaus may have business relationships with the same banks and credit card issuers as you, they are separate entities. Because of these connections, your account history will be included on any or all credit reports. Credit agencies do not share your account information. This rule is not applicable to credit freezes or fraud alerts.
Your score could vary between agencies because each CRA is unique. There is a possibility that your creditors may not report to all three major agencies, which could lead to a discrepancy in your score.
Different scoring models may be used by different credit bureaus, which could lead to different scores. It is important to review all three credit scores at least once per year. This allows you to verify that everything is correct.
How to see your 3 Credit Reports
You have the right to see your credit reports. Each major CRA will send you one free of charge once per year. Visit AnnualCreditReport.com to make the request, or call 877-322-8228. If you have been declined for credit, you can request a copy of the report free of charge. However, you must do so within 60 days.8
If you need additional credit reports, you can purchase them directly from any of these CRAs anytime. Equifax and Experian both offer credit reports that combine information from all three major CRAs.
How to dispute the information with credit reporting agencies
To correct any incorrect information in your credit report, you might contact a credit agency directly. According to a Federal Trade Commission study, one in four consumers had credit reporting errors that affected their credit scores. One in five consumers had an error in at least one credit report. A credit agency corrected this after the dispute.
It is a good idea for you to contact the credit bureau and the lender or company that submitted the incorrect information. Send it in writing and keep copies. Below are the contact details for each bureau.
Mail: P.O. Box 105788 Atlanta, GA30348
Telephone: 888-EXPERIAN (397-3742)
Mail: PO Box 9554, Allen, TX 75013 Box 9554, Allen, TX 75013
Mail: P.O. Box 2000 Chester, PA 19016
Fraud Alerts and Credit Freezes
If you believe you are the victim of identity theft, you can contact any of these CRAs to request a credit freeze or fraud alert placed on your credit reports. If you have a credit freeze, it blocks your credit report from being accessed. You can’t apply for credit if one has been placed. This service is usually free, and you can remove the freeze at any moment.
A fraud alert is placed in the same manner and remains in effect for one year. A credit freeze may be required in certain states. An alert is free of charge. If you suspect a problem, it’s a good idea to freeze your account at all three major credit bureaus.
You can ensure that your credit reports are updated at least once per year to keep you on top of any fraudulent activity or inaccurate information. You should resolve any disputes quickly to avoid negative financial consequences.
credit reporting act fcra
Equifax Experian and TransUnion
I am David, economist, originally from Britain, and studied in Germany and Canada. I am now living in the United States. I have a house in Ontario, but I actually never go. I wrote some books about sovereign debt, and mortgage loans. I am currently retired and dedicate most of my time to fishing. There were many topics in personal finances that have currently changed and other that I have never published before. So now in Business Finance, I found the opportunity to do so. Please let me know in the comments section which are your thoughts. Thank you and have a happy reading.