The Three Consumer Credit Bureaus
There are three major credit bureaus providing nationwide coverage of consumer credit information in the United States: Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union. Although many national lending institutions report consumer credit information to all three, smaller banks and other credit grantors may report to only one-or even none. Therefore, your credit report from one credit bureau is not necessarily exactly the same as your credit report from another.
What Is a Credit Bureau?
A credit bureau or credit reporting agency is in the business of gathering, maintaining, and selling information about consumers’ credit histories. It collects information about consumers’ payment habits from credit grantors like banks, savings and loans, credit unions, finance companies, and retailers. The credit bureau stores this information in a computer database and sells it to credit grantors in the form of credit reports. When you apply for a new credit card or loan, the credit grantor orders your credit report from at least one credit bureau and analyzes the information to decide whether to grant you credit. The credit bureau charges the credit grantor a fee for every credit report sold.
Although credit-reporting agencies provide your credit report to lenders when you apply for credit, they do not make actual lending decisions. It is up to individual lenders to evaluate your credit report and any other factors they consider important and then decide whether or not to offer you credit.
No one can legally remove accurate and timely negative information from a credit report. The law allows you to ask for an investigation of information in your file that you dispute as inaccurate or incomplete. There is no charge for this. Everything a credit repair clinic can do for you legally, you can do for yourself at little or no cost. According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA):
Free Credit Score Report
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Why Does Your Credit Score Matter?
Your free credit score and report can have a significant impact on your life. With today’s technology, scores can be used day and night to make an instant assessment of your creditworthiness. Knowing and understanding your credit score gives you a financial edge that could put money in your pocket through lower interest rates and lower monthly payments.
What Is a Good Credit Score?
Because so many different credit scoring models are used, there is no single “good” credit score. Far more important than the number is how you rank on the particular scale being used. Because scoring models in general take the same things into consideration (primarily the information on your free credit report), a good credit rating on one scale will usually translate to a good credit rating on another scale.
Who Can View My Credit Report?
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) protects the privacy of your credit report. By law, however, your report may be released to persons or organizations which have a legitimate reason to view your report. In most instances, you must grant permission for your free credit report to be accessed. Granting such permission is often in the fine print of credit or employment applications.
About Annual Free Credit Reports
Under federal law you have the right to receive a free credit report from each of the three nationwide consumer reporting agencies once every 12 months. However, a free credit score is not included. Since information in your credit file can change frequently, it can be a good investment to keep tabs on your credit score and credit report more frequently by using a credit monitoring service.
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