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Three Major Credit Reporting Agencies

Three Major Credit Reporting Agencies

The three major credit reporting agencies (or credit bureaus) are Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. For all intents and purposes, these agencies’ primary objective is to provide (sell) consumer credit histories to creditors (credit card companies, banks and other financial lending institutions) to help them asses risk when providing credit. For example, when you apply for credit, the lender will automatically request a credit history report from the three bureaus to check up on your credit worthiness and to see how much interest to charge you based on the risk they face in lending you money.

To help combat fraud and a whole tangle of complications, the reporting agencies try not to interact directly with consumers, but are moving exclusively to online system called E-Oscar for all consumer disputes, claims and other correspondence. All three major credit reporting agencies of course also work with the Fair Isaac Corporation for FICO score calculation, which is primarily based on a statistical analysis of a person's credit report information gathered from the credit bureaus.

Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian gather on-going information about your credit history provided by all manner of credit unions, banks, lenders, landlords, employers, automobile companies, utility companies, insurance agencies, credit card companies, and potentially whomever else you have conducted business with. Information gathered include:
  • Your name, SSN, Address, date-of-birth, and employer information
  • Amount of debt you have and repayment ability (many factors are taken into consideration for repayment ability. See details)
  • Frequency of credit lenders who seek your credit report information
  • Any matters of public record up to 7 years prior (bankruptcies, past-due child support, etc.)

In the United States, the Fair Credit Reporting Act regulates the rules and regulations regarding credit reporting agencies. Responsibilities of the Big Three include:

  1. Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian must provide any consumer with personal information upon request.
  2. If false information is removed, it may not be reinserted on the same credit report without a 5 day notice to the consumer.
  3. Any false information may not be kept any longer than 7 years after a delinquency. (Exception: Bankruptcy files may be stored up to 10 years)


Equifax, originally known as the Retail Credit Company, was founded in 1899 and is one of the oldest and largest credit bureaus in America. Equifax is a worldwide credit service provider that accounts for $1.5 billion in yearly global revenue, and has more than 7000 employees in 14 different countries. Today, Atlanta, Georgia, is the homestead of Equifax's main headquarters where business is conducted with over 400,000,000 individual credit possessors all over the world. Equifax supplies companies and businesses worldwide with consumer credit reports, analytical information, and computer financial software.

In 1920, Equifax offices were open throughout the United States and Canada and later expanded overseas to the United Kingdom. In the 60's Equifax had grown to be one of the biggest credit bureaus in the world. Equifax came under harsh criticisms in the 1960's and 1970's for their willingness to sell private information on consumers to anyone, information including marital troubles, job details, school history, childhood, sex life, and political opinions and activities. Soon after this dispute however, computer databases became commonplace and were implemented by Equifax as well as other large corporations, and the United States Fair Credit Reporting Act was established allowing consumers their rights to have personal information securely stored in corporate databases. In fact, this incident in part prompted Retail Credit Company to change its name to Equifax in 1975. In the advancement of consumer privacy laws and identity theft protection, 1999 saw the Equifax Credit Watch program launched, which offered considerable protection for consumers. This program led to other programs such as "Victim Alert" and "Credit Lock" to help people stay safe and on track with their own credit status.

Equifax has been fined twice by the U.S. government since the year 2000. In the first case, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) fined Equifax $2.5 million for blocking consumer phone calls who were trying to obtain personal credit information. In 2003, the same happened, but was settled in court for a miniscule $250,000.

Equifax – Contact Info

Equifax Credit Information
Services, Inc.
P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374
Toll Free Number 1 (888) 567-8688
Credit Reports Hotline 1 (800) 685-1111
Fraud Alert Hotline 1 (888) 766-0008

Experian, originally known as CCN systems in the 80s, was founded in 1980 by John Peace in Nottingham, England. Today, Dublin, Ireland, is the homestead of Experian's main headquarters where business is conducted in 36 different countries. They have a primary sub-headquarters located in Costa Mesa, California as well. In 1996, Experian adapted TRW Information Service methods and started reporting credit histories to businesses all over the globe. Besides credit reporting, Experian provides large-scale marketing solutions, decision analytics and interactive services. The company collects information on people, businesses, motor vehicles and insurance ahd collects 'lifestyle' data from on- and off-line surveys to be sold. Experian has purchased and acquired many diverse companies throughout the years including CheetahMail, FootFall, Northern Credit Bureaus, Hitwise Emailing Solution, and Tallyman software.

Experian is a self-purported strong follower of the Fair Credit Reporting and Accurate Credit Transactions Acts. Though in 2005, Experian was in violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act by obtaining credit card information on all "free" credit checks. This credit card information perhaps in part caused fraud cases to arise.

All disputes and inquires concerning TransUnion can be notified here

Experian Contact info

475 Anton Blvd.
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Toll Free Number 1 (888) 397 3742
Credit Services 1 (888) 243 6951
Credit Manager Members 1 (800) 787 6864
Costa Mesa, CA Office 1 (714) 830 7000

TransUnion was originally created by The Union Tank Car Company in 1968. TransUnion is a worldwide credit service provider with offices in 24 different countries. Today, Chicago, Illinois is the homestead of TransUnion's main headquarters, along with 250 other offices throughout the United States. TransUnion supplies companies and businesses worldwide with consumer credit reports, analytical information, and computer financial software.

All disputes and inquires concerning TransUnion can be notified here

TransUnion Contact info

Transunion Consumer
PO Box 2000
Chester, PA 19022-2000
Toll Free Number 1 (800) 916-8800
1 (866) 744-8221
Identity Theft Protection

If you have been a victim of identity theft, or suspect your credit may be in danger, you should immediately get a security freeze. Personal information such as a social security number can be easily exchanged or sold amongst identity thieves in order to obtain new lines of credit in your name. Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian all offer a security freeze option, which allows you to make your credit history off-limits to anybody that requests it. Once you have initiated a security freeze, you must give Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion permission, or a "lift", to continue anyone’s request for credit records. Law enforcement, government agencies, current credit lenders, and current collection agencies however will be able to access your credit history without your permission.

Free Credit Report

Since 2003, the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA) allow credit consumers to receive one free credit report a year. Reports from Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian are included. If a company denies you for credit you are entitle to another free report within 60 days of your denial notice. is the only FTC-authorized source to get a free annual credit reports under law. It’s simple to use, and requires no trial memberships or hidden fees like most third-party websites offering a free credit report. The Federal Trade Commission has received complaints from consumers who thought they were ordering their free annual reports from the three bureaus, but instead paid hidden fees or agreed to unwanted services. Don’t be fooled by TV ads, email offers, or online search results. We only recommend the FTC-authorized source for your free yearly report.

See detailed information on:

What is a Credit Report?

What Is In My Credit Report?

Why Is Credit Important?

What Is In My Credit Report?

How Can I Fix My Credit Report?

What Is A Good FICO Score Range?

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