What are credit bureaus?
Credit bureaus are also known as credit agencies or consumer reporting agencies (CRA). They collect personal, financial and other information from many different sources called data furnishers. Data furnishers are usually organizations with whom the person on record has had financial relationships with. They can include lenders, creditors, debt collection agencies, public records, courts, utilities and others.
That data is then made available to credit bureau customers to use in evaluating risks for everything from extending a loan to renting an apartment or buying a home.
Big Three – There are three major national credit reporting agencies maintaining your credit records, TransUmon, Equifax, and Experian. All three work independently of each other in gathering information about you. They have vast databases that track the credit history of several hundred million people around the world.
Creditors like banks and credit card companies use the database information to make lending decisions on consumers looking for credit. While all three are very large corporations with immense power, they still have to comply with the regulations of The Fair Credit Reporting Act. Experian IS the largest with $4-7 billion in revenues in 2013. Equifax with $1.9 billion in revenue is the oldest of the three agencies and maintains information on over 400 million credit holders worldwide. TransUnion is the third largest credit bureau in the country with $1.1 billion in revenues.
A reputable credit repair service will work directly with the agencies to have negative items removed from your credit report.
Other Credit Bureaus
Beyond the big three, are several smaller agencies such as Innovis and PRBC (PRBC stands for Pay Rent Build Credit Inc.).
Innovis, sometimes called the fourth agency, has fewer data furnishers reporting to them, and they maintain fewer records than the big three. Innovis primarily provides two types of services to their customers, consumers who have made late payments in the past, and change of consumers’ addresses.
PRBC has a different thought process from the other four credit agencies. They provide “alternative” credit reports that allow consumers to provide their own non-debt payment history to PRBC. So the consumer can report their payments for things like insurance, phone, rent, utilities, cable and other payment activity that is normally not reported to the credit agencies.
Not A Credit Bureau
We have seen other resources and books call ChexSystems a credit bureau. While it is not a credit bureau by definition, it is used by many of the same customers who use the credit bureaus because ChexSystems tracks consumers who have written bad checks or own money to banks for any reason.
Three Major Credit Bureaus Contact Details
Equifax Phone Numbers:
Request Free Credit Report: 800-685-1111
Place Fraud Alert on Profile: 888-766-0008
Existing Customer Support: 866-493-9788
Business Solutions: 888-202-4025
Fax Number: 404-885-8078
Equifax Dispute Mailing Address:
Experian National Consumer Assistance Center
P.O. Box 4500, Allen, TX 75013
Experian Phone Numbers:
Report Requests & Fraud Help: 888-397-3742
Existing Customer Support: 877-284-7942
Business Credit Services: 888-243-6951
Fax Line: 972-390-4908
Experian Dispute Mailing Address:
TransUnion Phone Numbers:
TransUnion is a consumer credit reporting agency, considered one of the big three agencies. TransUnion was created in 1968 and is based in Chicago, Illinois.
General information and to order credit report and score: www.transunion.com
Disputes Items & Status Checks: 800-916-8800
Free Annual Credit Report: 877-322-8228
Purchase Credit Report: 800-888-4213
Place a Security Freeze: 888-909-8872
Credit Monitoring Customer Support: 800-493-2392
Business Services Assistance: 866-922-2100
Fax Machine: 610-546-4771
TransUnion Dispute Mailing Address:
TransUnion Consumer Relations
P.O. Box 2000, Chester, PA 19016-2000
Patricia C. Russell, CFP®. Patricia Russell is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional and the founder of FinanceMarvel. With more than 10 years experience in helping families and individuals take control of their personal finances and achieve financial independence. She holds degrees from Oxford and MIT.