The 3 major credit bureaus are Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. All three agencies have their own method of scoring credit histories and they may not all list the exact same information.
The 3 Major Credit Bureaus
The 3 major credit unions are not designed with the consumer in mind. The system is set up to the advantage of the companies requesting credit scores. The main focus of credit bureaus is to provide accurate information to the companies requesting histories of credit applicants.
Equifax is one of the 3 major credit bureaus. This company has been in business for over 100 years. Although Equifax is headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, it has offices in many different countries throughout the globe.
This credit bureau caters to both small and large businesses as well as assisting individual consumers with accurate credit reporting. This does not mean that every Equifax report is completely free of errors and omissions, but Equifax does try to promptly correct any problems on credit reports. It is in this company's best interest to resolve issues quickly - as it is for each of the major credit bureaus - because their product is accurate credit history reporting to lenders and other requesting organizations.
Experian is another of the major credit bureaus. This company focuses on providing business services to interested companies. Companies pay Experian to provide creditworthy leads for direct mailing and preapproved offers. For example, when consumers receive preapproved credit card offers in the mail there is a good chance that the original information regarding the consumer's creditworthiness was supplied to the creditor by Experian or one of the other credit bureaus.
This credit bureau also offers ContractorCheck, a service for individuals to use prior to employing a contractor to check the status of the contractor's licensing, credit, and other important information.
TransUnion is another major credit bureau. This company began operations in 1968 and is headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. TransUnion maintains credit reports for millions of consumers including overseas consumers who do not reside within the United States.
This company provides a variety of educational materials to consumers with information on credit management and other financial issues. TransUnion's Credit Learning Center supplies consumers with answers to common credit questions as well as other useful information.
One, Two, or Three
Lenders may request credit reports from only one preferred credit bureau or may instead request copies from all three major credit bureaus. Some lenders and other requesting companies may use a combination of the three.
Requesting a credit report costs money. Even though it is much more financially advantageous to request only one report, the best way to get an accurate view of a potential borrower's credit history is to take a look at all three reports in their entirety.
Annual Credit Reports
Most financial experts suggest that consumers should review their credit reports annually to make sure there are no errors or omissions listed on the report. Each of the three credit reporting agencies offer consumers glimpses at their credit reports using the websites. Even though these offers are initially free-of-charge they usually involve enrollment into a program that costs money.
If you want to see copies of all three credit reports without paying a fee you may be entitled to a free copy once a year of all three reports. The only way to request the free reports without paying a fee or enrolling into a potentially expensive program is by visiting the official website for free annual credit reports: www.annualcreditreport.com.
The free versions of these reports do not include access to your credit score, but you will be able to review the credit history information contained within the report. Accessing your actual credit score through all three credit bureaus will cost money, and you can either request the score through the websites for each credit bureau or instead use a website that offers all three scores for a fee.