Credit Bureaus Are Not Branches Of Government

Tuesday, February 22, 2011, 8:18 AM | 9 Comments

Many folks in America think credit bureaus are branches Of government. They are not. There are three credit bureaus that collect and keep records of credit history and ratings on individual finances.

They are for-profit organizations.

They store and maintain credit scores.

They make their money by charging fees when individuals, lending institutions, and other organizations ask for credit report of a particular individual.

Even when you apply for a job, many companies now request the candidate’s credit score.

The three major credit bureaus – commonly called Credit Reporting Agencies (CRAs) – are:

  1. Equifax

    Equifax is a global leader in turning information into intelligence. For businesses, Equifax provides faster and easier ways to find, approve and market to the right customers.

    For consumers, Equifax offers easier instantaneous ways to buy products or services, and better insight into and management of their personal credit.

  2. Experian (formerly TRW)

    Experian is a global leader in providing information solutions to organizations and consumers. It helps organizations find, develop and manage profitable customer relationships by providing information, decision-making solutions and processing services.

    It empowers consumers to understand, manage and protect their personal information and assets.

  3. TransUnion

    TransUnion is a leading global information solutions company that customers trust as a business intelligence partner and commerce facilitator.

    TransUnion offers a broad range of financial products and services that enable customers to manage risk and capitalize on market opportunities.

  4. Callcredit (U.K.)

    Callcredit Information Group is a U.K. bureau whose function is the same as its U.S. counterparts.

    It manages consumer data for businesses across every sector, from financial services, retail and utilities to public sector, telecoms, insurance and many more.

How Creditors Report to Credit Bureaus

To report information to the three credit bureaus, a creditor fills out application for the purpose of becoming member of one of the three bureaus and not necessarily all three.


The membership is voluntary. Also, no creditor has to report to any bureau. It’s not required by the law.

Some creditors will report to one agency only just because they don’t want to spend extra money to report to all three. That means your credit history may be different in all three bureaus.

Their databases are privately maintained. They don’t share information with one another. That’s a general assumption among credit and finance gurus.

Banks, finance companies of all sort, department stores, tax authorities, landlords and other such entities may all subscribe to CRAs. Once a creditor becomes a member, it is then allowed to report on your credit history.

They may report the following about your credit:

  • Your payment history
  • Where you currently work and your employment history
  • Your age
  • Whether or not you are divorced
  • and a whole bunch of other information that can help in establishing your credit history more accurately.

The three credit reporting agencies got together and formed a centralized service for consumers called Annual Credit Report.

It provides consumers with the secure means to request and obtain a free credit report once every 12 months from each of the three CRAs in accordance with the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACT Act).

A Word of Caution… website warns that

  • Consumers should never provide their personal information to any other company or person for requesting free annual credit reports under the FACT Act.
  • will not approach consumers via email, telemarketing or direct mail solicitations.

In a Nutshell
None of the credit bureaus (Credit Reporting Agencies) is a branch of the government. They are all for-profit organizations. They make money by charging fees from all kinds of creditors and individuals.

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