What are credit bureaus, and why are they important?
Credit reporting agencies, also known as credit bureaus, maintain records of your payment history with various “lenders.” Organizations that report information to credit bureaus include:
- Credit card companies
- Auto lenders
- Telephone providers
- Debt collection agencies
- Utility companies
- Student loan lenders
- Courts that deliver judgements (such as liens and bankruptcies)
The three main credit reporting agencies are Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. While each of these three agencies maintains information about you, they do not share it with one another. This means that some information may be found in one credit report, but not in another.
There are also smaller, specialty reporting agencies that focus on specific industries. For example, real estate management reports provide information about your rental payment history. Some landlords use these reports to screen potential tenants.
Generally, if you pay your bills regularly and on time, that reported information will have a positive impact on your credit score. Likewise, if you do not pay your bills regularly and on time, that reported information will have a negative impact. Many businesses such as lenders, landlords, utilities, automobile insurers and more use credit reports and scores to determine if they will extend services to you, and at what price. Many employers use credit reports to determine if they will hire you.
That is why it is important to check your credit report frequently to catch any mistakes early. This helps prevent erroneous, inaccurate or obsolete information from lingering on your file.
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