Credit Bureaus, Who Are They, Really?
Credit bureaus sell credit reports to credit grantors, such as banks, finance companies, and retailers. Additionally, credit bureaus will sell credit reports to potential employers, landlords and insurance companies.
Businesses and Credit grantors use credit reports to determine creditworthiness.
There are three major companies that are in the business of collecting and distributing credit histories on all Americans.
If you’re an average American, it’s more than likely all three companies have a credit history report on you.
Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax are all competitors — which means — each company has a different version of your credit history.
This makes it necessary to obtain reports from all three companies, to ensure that no erroneous information is within their files.
Lenders, landlords, and employers use either one of the three credit bureaus mentioned above. Mortgage companies and auto dealers utilize all three bureaus simultaneously.
TransUnion was originally formed in 1968 as a holding company for the railroad leasing organization, Union Tank Car Company.
The following year, it acquired the Credit Bureau of Cook County, which possessed and maintained 3.6 million card files.
Almost thirty years later, in 2010, Goldman Sachs Capital Partners and Advent International acquired it from Madison Dearborn Partners.
In 2014, TransUnion acquired Hank Asher’s data company TLO.
On June 25, 2015, TransUnion became a publicly traded company for the first time, trading under the symbol TRU.
TransUnion serves a broad range of industries including financial and banking services, insurance providers, mortgage and real estate services, direct marketers and retailers, collection agencies, communication and energy companies and healthcare facilities.
TRW & Experian
TRW, Inc. (Thompson Ramo Woolridge) was once one of the largest corporations in the country with 156,000 employees in several different divisions, including automotive, aerospace, and credit reporting.
TRW credit reporting didn’t entirely disappear. They sold their data to an information services company called Experian, which was formed in 1980 in Dublin, Ireland.
The TRW credit reporting data was used by Experian to make themselves one of the three top credit reporting bureaus in the United States, along with Equifax and TransUnion.
They collect information about you and your credit history from public records, your creditors and other reliable sources.
Equifax is the oldest of the three major credit bureaus, which dates back to 1899. Two brothers set up a company called Retail Credit Company in Atlanta, Georgia.
The company became Equifax in 1975 and they claim to be the largest provider of consumer information.
Equifax serves customers across a wide range of industries including the financial services, retail, healthcare, telecommunications/utilities, brokerage, insurance, and governmental agencies.
Obtaining a Free Report
Can I obtain a free credit report from credit bureaus?
You are eligible to receive a free copy of your credit report from any of the credit bureaus if:
- Have been denied credit, insurance, or employment within the past 60-days as a result of your credit history.
- Can certify in writing that you are unemployed and intend to apply for employment in the 60-day period beginning on the date in which you made the certification.
- Are a recipient of public welfare assistance or have reason to believe that your file at the agency contains inaccurate information due to fraud.
Residents of Colorado, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, and Vermont, can receive one free copy of your credit report each year from the credit bureaus.
Residents of Georgia are allowed to receive two free copies of your credit report each year from the credit bureaus.
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