You may need to get in touch with a major credit bureau once in a while if you want to request a freeze on your credit report or would like to dispute a negative item.
Also, you may even have a good credit score but still want to check the copy of your annual credit report. This can help to protect your identity and ensure fair pricing on your credit.
If you want to know everything about your current credit score and review any prospective problems or mistakes, you may need to contact one of 3 credit bureau.
Here is how they work and everything you need to know about them.
What Is a Credit Bureau?
Let’s start with the basics and give the credit bureau definition.
A federal credit bureau or a credit reporting agency is a company that gathers and maintains your credit information and later resells it to creditors, consumers, and creditors in the form of a credit report.
There are approximately 40 types of credit bureaus in the USA these days. However, only three of them are the most popular and familiar among consumers. They are:
Some smaller agencies can be helpful as well, but potential lenders and creditors will most likely check your credit with one of these top CRAs.
How Credit Bureau Systems Collect Your Information
There are several sources that give information to credit bureau services.
- Data that is bought or gathered by the bureaus. In some cases, the CRAs will specifically want to buy the information that is connected with bankruptcy records or government tax liens. They will later use this data to generate your credit bureau report free.
- Data is reported to the CRAs by the lenders. Various lending institutions can also report information about the customers and their accounts to the credit bureau phone numbers. In this case, important information is reported by creditors.
- Data that is shared among several CRAs. Of course, credit bureaus are competitors and have their own sources of information. But often they have to share data with one another in a certain situation. For instance, they are required to share the initial credit bureau fraud alert with other CRAs.
Where Can You Get Your Free Credit Bureau Reports?
If you are willing to get your annual credit report for free, you may get the copy at AnnualCreditReport.com. You can get free access to your report from the 3 top credit reporting agencies running this website.
Pay attention that you can get free access only every 12 months. If you still need more frequent copies, each of them will cost about $15. Sometimes it’s worth paying the money to get a quicker dispute process.
The free report will take 45 days to give an answer to your credit bureau dispute process, whereas prepaid services will cut it shorter to 30 days. There are two ways to obtain your credit report. You may either order it at a particular CRA or order three reports at once to check if all of them are accurate and contain the correct information.
The Big 3 CRAs
Here is some basic information about the three most popular and well-known credit reporting agencies. We can’t tell you which credit bureau is most important as they all have their benefits. It’s up to you which company to apply to and which services to use.
- Experian Credit Bureau
This CRA got started in London in 1827 when entrepreneurs decided to collect and share information about customers who wouldn’t pay the bills. Subscribers will receive a free annual credit report and a Credit Tracker. Check the credit bureau contact near you if you want to become their subscriber.
- Equifax Credit Bureau
It is known since 1899. It is one of the three major agencies where you can order your credit report. However, it suffered from a hack attack back in 2017 and the sensitive data of 143 million clients had a data breach. Since that time, the company has made an online tool that helps to check if your personal data remains secure. The main advantage of this agency is that it provides a free VantageScore and FICO score to its customers as well as the protection of their identity from fraud attacks.
- TransUnion Credit Bureau
This agency first started as a tank car business, transforming later into a credit bureau. You may check this credit bureau addresses to place a freeze on your credit report in case of identity fraud or data breach. After that, TransUnion will notify the other two major CRAs about this situation.
Credit Report May Contain Errors
The last but not least tip is to check and double-check the information on your annual free credit reports.
According to the Federal Trade Commission survey in 2013, one in twenty consumers has an error in their credit report that may affect their credit score and make it harder to get a loan in the future.
Some personal details or your name can be similar to dozens of other consumers’ names, which may lead to errors and inaccurate data on your report. Often lenders and creditors may use this incorrect information before making their lending decisions rather than check the documents provided by borrowers.
All in all, here is everything you need to know about the major credit bureaus and how they work. Bear in mind that these agencies just provide credit reports and important information to lenders but don’t take part in the approval process. So, if you want to be sure that the lenders will approve your loan request, it’s better to check your report for any errors.