credit report agency are private companies that gather and compile a consumer’s credit history into one document for review. These companies are regulated by the federal government and most provinces and territories. The three largest credit bureaus are Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. They collect information about a consumer’s credit history from a variety of sources including credit card issuers, mortgage lenders, auto-finance companies and public records such as bankruptcy filings and foreclosures. The information is analyzed and then placed into a credit score that represents a consumer’s creditworthiness. A credit score is used to determine a consumer’s eligibility for loans, credit cards and mortgages, as well as the interest rates they will pay for those products.
A credit report is a snapshot of the consumer’s credit history, typically going back seven to ten years. It includes the number of credit accounts, how much debt is owed, repayment history, positive public information such as bankruptcies and foreclosures and negative public information such as liens and judgments. A credit report also lists recent inquiries made by lenders to the consumer’s credit file and may include a list of any errors that are in dispute. Not all lenders are required to report to all of the three major credit reporting agencies, so some information may appear on only one or more of the reports. This is why it’s important to monitor all three of your credit reports regularly.
The credit reporting agencies also receive information from creditors on a daily basis about a consumer’s payment history. This includes on-time payments for utilities, cable, phone and rent. These reports are compiled and sold to a variety of clients including financial institutions, insurance companies and employers. In addition to selling the standard information, the credit reporting agencies can provide a wide variety of services to their clients including specialized analysis tools.
There are a few key pieces of legislation that govern the activities of the consumer reporting agencies, known as CRAs in the industry. These include the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which provides consumer protections, and the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act and the Fair Credit Billing Act. In addition, there are several state laws that regulate how a CRA can share consumer information.
Credit reporting agencies partner with a variety of industries in order to maintain and analyze the information they receive about consumers. These partners include financial institutions, credit card companies, banks and credit unions, as well as mortgage brokers and auto dealers. The CRAs also partner with data furnishers, which are organizations that supply the information to the credit reporting agencies. These include the national mortgage originators, credit card companies, banks and many more.
In the United States, the big three consumer reporting agencies are Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. There are, however, dozens of smaller credit reporting agencies and data aggregators that specialize in specific fields or segments of the market. For example, PRBC is an alternative credit bureau that specializes in enabling consumers to self-enroll and build their own positive credit reports by reporting on-time utility and rental payments.