Who Are the Credit Bureaus (Consumer Reporting Agencies)?

A common question in many of our credit workshops involves concerns about who the consumer reporting agencies are and why they are allowed to essentially traffic in our personal information.

The three major, nationwide consumer reporting agencies, also known as credit bureaus, are Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. These are NOT government agencies. They are for profit businesses that gather and distribute our credit-related information. Not only do they have the right to use our information in their business, but we are the ones who have given them permission to do so.

Any time you apply for a credit card, store card, loan, line of credit, utility account, or cell phone plan, there will be a request for you to give the creditor permission to check your credit history. If you were to read the fine print, it will say something along the lines of, “With your signature, you give us permission to request and receive your credit-related information from the consumer reporting agencies and to report credit-related information from the account for which you are applying.”

Next up, let’s answer the question, “why are there three credit bureaus, and not just one?”

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