Credit reporting agencies
There are three credit bureaus: Equifax, TransUnion and Experian.
They maintain files on millions of borrowers. Lenders making credit decisions buy credit reports on their prospects, applicants and customers from the credit reporting agencies.
Lenders and other businesses use the information in your credit report to evaluate your applications for credit, loans, insurance, or renting a home.
How your credit report is maintained
TransUnion, Equifax and Experian are the three bureaus that maintain credit reports. They issue credit reports to creditors, insurers and others businesses as permitted under law.
When you apply for any new line of credit – for example, a new credit card – the creditor requests a copy of credit report from one or more of the credit bureaus. The creditor will evaluate your credit report, a credit score, or other information you provide (such as income or debt information) to determine your credit worthiness, as well as your interest rate. If you’re approved, that new card – called a tradeline, will be included in your credit report and updated about every 30 days.
Tens of thousands of credit grantors – retailers, credit card issuers, banks, finance companies, credit unions, etc. – send updates to each of the credit reporting bureaus, usually once a month. These updates include information about how their customers use and pay their accounts.
Accessing your credit report
Your credit report is compiled when you or your lender request it. It contains information that is supplied by lenders, by you and by court records.
In order to obtain your credit report, you must provide your name, address, Social Security number, and date of birth. If you’ve moved within the last two years, you should include your previous address. To protect the security of your personal information, you may be asked a series of questions that only you would know, like your monthly mortgage payment.
Since lenders may review your FICO® Scores and credit report from any of the three credit bureaus, it’s suggested that you check your credit report from all three and make sure they’re all accurate.