Credit Bureaus, What are they?
There are three national
credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
Lenders rely on credit reports developed by one or
more of these companies to decide whether you are
creditworthy. Each credit bureau gathers, on an
ongoing basis, information about you and your credit
Your name, address,
social security number, date of birth and employer.
The amount of debt you
are carrying, what kind of debt you are carrying,
your ability to repay your debts and your bill
The frequency and
specific occasions when lenders and other interested
parties have requested to see your credit report
(going back two years).
Matters of public record
such as liens, bankruptcies and overdue child
support (going back seven years).
Credit card companies,
banks, lenders and other sources that have loaned
you money provide the bureaus with this information.
The sources supply it in return for the ability to
turn to the credit bureaus when they want to obtain
credit information on you.
All three bureaus work
independently with a company called Fair Isaac
Corporation. Fair Isaac has specialized software
that uses the information on your credit history to
calculate a three-digit number, ranging from 300 to
850, known as your FICO score.
You have three FICO scores, one from each credit
bureau, because they each collect information
differently and use their own proprietary methods to
assess that information.
Each credit bureau also gives a different name to
its FICO score. Equifax calls it your BEACON score,
Experian calls it your Experian/Fair Isaac Risk
Model score and TransUnion calls it your EMPIRICA
score. Scores over 750 are considered excellent,
while those below 620 are risky. Your FICO score can
differ from one company to another by as much as 100
Lenders, employers, landlords, automobile companies,
insurance agencies and other service providers buy
this information in the form of a credit report. It
helps them decide whether to lend or do business
with you and determine the rate they will charge
you. They may look at one, two, or all three of your
reports and/or scores.
These credit bureaus are not government entities and
are not funded by the government. They are national,
independent, for-profit companies owned by their
shareholders. Each is regulated by the Fair Credit
Reporting Act (FCRA), the federal law that covers
credit bureaus and credit reporting. Individual
states may also have their own versions of this law.
You can obtain a Credit
Report that shows your credit information from all
of the major credit bureaus in one easy-to-read
online report. The Report includes a free credit
score, as well as helpful tips and easy to
understand explanations of your credit. Just