Credit Reporting - Equifax, Experian and Trans Union

In the United States, there are three major credit reporting agencies (sometimes also referred to as a credit bureau):

  • Equifax
  • Experian
  • TransUnion

These companies maintain credit report files on millions of consumers across the United States. The information is packaged and sold to individuals, creditors, banks, credit unions, prospective employers, landlords, insurance companies, collection agencies, etc. in the form of a consumer credit report.

Companies that supply credit information to consumer reporting agencies have to follow specific credit reporting rules, as covered in the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), which is governed by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The Act stipulates who can obtain a copy of a credit report and in what circumstances, It also insures that the information displayed is protected and accurate, and all that parties (consumers and creditors) have rights and responsibilities.

 

What's On A Credit Report

The following information may be included in your credit report:

  • Name and any variations of a name
  • Social Security Number
  • Date of Birth
  • Current address
  • Previous addresses
  • Employment data
  • Inquiries
  • Credit accounts and history
  • Some utility payments
  • Collections
  • Public records:
    • Federal, State and County tax liens
    • Bankruptcies
    • Civil judgments
    • Foreclosures
 

The best way to get information from the credit reporting agencies is to use their websites:

 

Filing a Credit Report Dispute

A credit report contains key information that identifies persons and how bills have been paid. Inaccurate information on a credit report can lower a credit score or cause a denial of services or products that otherwise would have been approved. That is why it is important to get a copy of your credit report periodically and review it for fraudulent activity, incomplete or inaccurate information.

Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), the credit reporting agency and the company that provided the information that is in error on the report are responsible for correcting inaccurate or incomplete information. Each of the Credit Reporting Bureaus has established an online process for facilitating the dispute process – that is the recommended way to file a dispute about an item on your credit report that you feel is inaccurate.

 

How Data Is Reported

Your information enters the Credit Reporting Agency databases through the following methods:

  • Accounts receivable data – with very few exceptions, all of your creditors report account and payment history information to each of the three credit reporting bureaus on a monthly basis.
  • Court records – certain events are deemed “public records” like bankruptcy, and as such are available through the court records system
  • Inquiries – anytime you apply for a credit card or any other type of loan, that application appears on your credit report as an inquiry, and your personal credit report is updated with any new or revised information about your name, address, or employer.

 

How Often Credit Reports Are Updated

Generally, creditors forward information to the credit reporting agencies on a monthly basis. The day of the month that each individual creditor sends updates varies. Updated information from creditor A, might come in on the first of every month, and updated information from creditor B might come in on the 11th of each month, etc. Information can be updated on a daily basis depending on when information is received.