What Is a Credit Bureau?

What Is a Credit Bureau?

By Charles Joseph | Editor, Financial Affairs
Reviewed by Corey Michael | Senior Financial Analyst

A Credit Bureau, also known as a credit reporting agency, is an institution that collects and analyzes data from various sources about consumers’ credit behavior. This data includes how much credit you have available, how much you’ve used, whether you’ve made payments on time, and any actions taken against you due to unpaid bills. Lenders, landlords, and employers may check this information before making decisions about approving a loan, renting an apartment, or hiring for a job.

Related Questions

1. What kind of information do Credit Bureaus collect?

Apart from credit behavior, Credit Bureaus also consider your personal information such as name, address, Social Security number, and employment history. Moreover, public records such as court judgments, bankruptcies, or tax liens can also be included in your credit report.

2. How many Credit Bureaus are there?

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There are three major Credit Bureaus in the United States: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Each can have slightly different information about you, as not all creditors report to all three.

3. Are the reports from all Credit Bureaus the same?

While the collected data is similar, the reports from each Credit Bureau may not be identical. This is because not all lenders or creditors report to all three bureaus. So, it’s possible for a credit report from one bureau to have some information that isn’t in the reports from the other two.

4. How can I check my credit report?

You are entitled to a free copy of your credit report every 12 months from each of the three major Credit Bureaus through the site AnnualCreditReport.com. Monitoring your credit report is a good way to detect identity theft and ensure the information is accurate.

5. What if there’s an error in my credit report?

If you find an error in your credit report, you should contact both the Credit Bureau and the institution that provided the information. This could be your bank or credit card provider. The Credit Bureau usually has 30 days to investigate and correct the information if necessary.