Thursday, April 12, 2007

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.

The Three Consumer Credit Bureaus

There are three major credit bureaus providing nationwide coverage of consumer credit information in the United States: ExperianEquifax, , and TransUnion. 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 anothe

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