Overview of Consumer Credit Reporting Agencies
Consumer credit reporting agencies are entities that collect and disseminate information about consumers to be used for credit evaluation and certain other purposes. Credit bureaus hold a consumer’s credit report in their databases. Consumer credit reporting agencies have a number of responsibilities under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), including the following:
- Provide a consumer with the personal information contained in the agency’s files
- Take steps to verify the accuracy of information disputed by a consumer.
- Under the Fair and Accurate, Credit Transactions Act (FACTA) consumers are able to receive one free credit report a year
- The free report can be requested by telephone, mail, or through the government-authorized website, annualcreditreport.com
If negative information is removed as a result of a consumer’s dispute, it may not be reinserted without notifying the consumer within five days, in writing.
Consumer Credit Reporting Agencies may not retain negative information, such as late payments, bankruptcies, tax liens, or judgments, for an excessive period. The FCRA describes how long negative information may stay on a consumer’s credit report – typically seven years from the date of the delinquency. The exception to this rule are bankruptcies, which can remain for ten years, and tax liens, which can remain for seven years from the time they are paid.
Primary Credit Reporting Agencies
There are three primary credit reporting agencies:
Equifax – Equifax is a leading reporting company that provides credit information.
Experian – Experian provides U.S. consumers with the tools and services to help them understand, manage and protect their personal credit profiles.
Trans Union – TransUnion is a leading global provider of business intelligence services in more than 24 countries worldwide. With technology-based intelligence products, including innovative credit decisions and fraud prevention tools, advanced target marketing products, risk and profitability models, and portfolio management, TransUnion enables businesses to manage financial risk and capitalize on market opportunities.
Credit Rating Agencies
A credit rating agency (CRA) is a company that assigns credit ratings for issuers of certain types of debt obligations. The issuers are usually companies, cities, non-profit organizations, or governments. A credit rating measures the creditworthiness of an individual or a business, their ability to pay back loans, and may affect the interest rate and dollar amount of loans for which they apply.
A company that issues credit scores for individual creditworthiness is generally called a credit bureau or consumer credit reporting agency.
AAA Credit Screening Services – Resource for tenant credit reports, tenant screening, employment screening, driving records, criminal records, background checks, and business credit reports.
CreditLink Corporation – Established to meet the needs of landlords who demanded more information for their tenant screening dollars. Find tenant histories that include evictions and tenants who “skip out” on their rental obligations. It also includes a nationwide bad check search.
Creditreport.com – Creditreport.com, provided by Experian, is the official site authorized by the three national bureaus to provide the public with access to any or all of their credit reports 24 hours a day and 7 days a week 365 days a year.
Landlord Connection – Database of eviction records from all 50 States.
MyFico.com – myFICO® is the consumer division of Fair Isaac, the company that invented the FICO® credit risk score that lenders use. Fair Isaac sparked a revolution by pioneering credit risk scoring for the financial services industry. This new approach to lending enabled financial institutions to improve their business performance and expand consumers’ access to credit. Today Fair Isaac’s FICO® score is widely recognized as the industry standard for lenders. myFICO® offers informative credit information products that help people understand actions they can take to achieve and protect their overall financial health.
Optoutprescreen.com – Under the FCRA, the Consumer Credit Reporting Companies are permitted to include your name on lists used by creditors or insurers to make firm offers that are not initiated by you. The FCRA also provides you the right to “Opt-Out”, which prevents the consumer agencies from providing your credit file information. Through this website, you may request to:
- Opt-Out from receiving Firm Offers for Five Years
- Opt-Out from receiving Firm Offers permanently
- Opt-In and be eligible to receive Firm Offers
Tenant Screening Center – Provides history reports, tenant screening, criminal history, and other verification services.
Questions and Comments
If you have any questions about consumer credit reporting agencies, please leave a message below. See also, our list of background check providers.