Credit Bureaus

Credit Reporting Agencies and Credit Reports

There are three national credit reporting agencies (CRA’s), or credit bureaus, TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. Their purpose is to maintain certain financial data on as many adult consumer in the US as possible, in order to offer a credit report to any bank or business who requests such information. Your credit report is basically a compilation of all the data and information a given bureau has on you, and your credit score is derived from a formula based on your report. Each agency has their own sources of information and keeps their own records. Needless to say, this is a pretty difficult task and has plenty of room for errors.

financial debtAs an example of the process, let’s say you apply to the bank for a car loan. The bank will request a copy of your financial history from the credit bureaus. The bank will then look at your credit reports, scores, and income to determine whether they’ll lend you money, and at what rates. Once you start making monthly payments, the bank will report your activity, especially any late payments. The credit bureaus update your records on a regular basis with new information, all available for the next creditor to view.

Although it may appear like these credit reporting agencies exist to help you, the consumer, make no mistake, they are in business to make money, like any other business. Their main clients are lenders and creditors who request their services. In other words, if there are mistakes in their records, it may cost you a lot of money, but not necessarily them. For an in depth, check out this 60 Minutes episode on credit reporting.

Next, let’s take a closer look at what goes into credit scores.

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