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Your financial stability plays a huge part in determining whether or not you’re approved for a loan or credit card application. While lenders use the information you provide in your application to determine approval, they heavily rely on your credit report.
Your credit report is held by credit reporting agencies (CRAs) and it’s a detailed record of your applications for credit, payment history and other borrower behavior. Find out more about these agencies and the role they play in your credit journey in this guide.
There are multiple credit reporting agencies operating in the US, but the major three bureaus are :
Each credit bureau also offers credit monitoring for a price. This type of service allows consumers to access their credit score and report, plus added protection in the form of credit alerts via email or text and the ability to place a freeze on their credit file.
If you find any information that’s incorrect on your credit report it’s important to get in contact with the credit agency to dispute the error.
|Equifax||888-766-0008||Equifax Consumer Fraud Division|
P.O. Box 740256
Atlanta, GA 30374
P.O. Box 9554
Allen, TX 75013
|TransUnion||888-909-8872||TransUnion Fraud Victim Assistance Department|
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19016
A credit reporting agency, or credit bureau, constantly collects, holds and distributes consumer data from credit providers and public records that pertain to a borrower’s history — this information forms your credit report.
Your credit information can be bought by businesses or other providers who care to look further into your financial background in order to approve or deny your request for credit or services. All operations of the three credit bureaus are regulated by the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
Credit bureaus can receive your personal information in a number of ways:
It’s important to note that unless you’ve held or applied for a credit account in the US, you probably won’t have a credit report.
You can access your free credit report from all three bureaus from AnnualCreditReport.com once every week.
After you’ve received your one free report from each bureau under federal law, any additional credit report will have to be bought from the bureau you choose to deal with.
You can access your credit report for free, but paid services can also give your credit score and set up monitoring so you can be automatically alerted if something out of the ordinary is happening with your credit.
Each bureau receives different information from credit providers and public sources. However, as all of these wells of information are not the same and because some providers pick and choose who they report to, you’ll find that your credit report may be different when you order from each of the agencies.
This could also affect the way your credit score is calculated, especially if one bureau is missing some key information or has a mistake listed on your credit report.
The three major credit reporting agencies operate slightly differently. That’s why when ordering your credit report from one bureau, you should have a good idea of what information is listed on the other two so you can cross reference to make sure that your credit history is accurate.
If you discover a fishy account on your credit report or see a blatant error, get it cleared up as soon as you can so you’re not negatively affected when trying to prove your creditworthiness down the road.
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