You may be wondering what credit card reporting agencies are. They are not so mysterious or sinister as you may think. They are simply the agencies that compile the information based upon your credit history and your current credit profile.
When you apply of for a personal loan, a mortgage, a credit card or any line of credit, the prospective lender will check with a credit reporting agency to get information about your credit history and your credit score. The lender will then use the information gained from the credit reporting agency and information gained from you personally to then decide on the loan.
Who Are The Credit Card Reporting Agencies
There are 3 major credit reporting agencies that are used by lenders to help determine approval, credit limits and interest rates for those seeking a credit line. Virtually all lenders use one of the three major credit reporting agencies. There is not a sharing of information between the three credit reporting bureaus, so it is likely that you have 3 different credit reports as well as 3 different credit scores.
Here are the 3 major credit card reporting agencies and their contact information.
Equifax: Equifax Credit Information Services, Inc.
P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA. 30374
Call 1-(800) 685-1111 for a credit report by phone. To report a fraud alert existing on your credit report call 1(888) 766-0008.
Experian: National Consumer Assistance Center
P.O. Box 949
Allen, TX 75013
Call 1-(888) EXPERIAN for credit reports or to report a fraud alert existing on your credit report.
TransUnion Corporation: TransUnion LLC
Consumer Disclosure Center
P.O. Box 1000
Chester, PA 19022
Call 1-(800) 888-4213 for free credit reports.
What Information Do Credit Card Reporting Agencies Gather?
The purpose of credit card reporting agencies is to gather information concerning individual credit profiles and then relay that information to lenders seeking such information. The first thing to understand is just what information is gathered by credit reporting agencies.
- Bankruptcies, Judgments or Delinquent Accounts: These are the big things that kill your credit. They will certainly make their way onto your credit report and will make finding credit difficult for you until you show that you can handle credit responsibly.
- Credit Inquiries: Any time a lender inquires into your credit history, it is noted in your credit report.
- Employment Information: Income, title, length of employment, previous employment are all included on your credit report.
- List of Creditors: A list of all those who have given credit to you in the past and those who are giving you credit presently.
- Payment History: Your history of paying off bills, loans and retail accounts. Did you pay them off on time and how often were you late on payments or skipped a payment?
- Personal Information: Name, address, social security number and other relevant personal information.
How To Use Credit Card Reporting Agencies
There is no need to be scared of the credit bureaus. They exist for you just as much as they exist for your lenders. The goal of the credit reporting bureaus is to keep an accurate account of your credit history. They each do a pretty good job of that and when you do spot something incorrect; they do try to fix it. Of course, you have heard the horror stories of how it is like pulling teeth to get your credit report corrected, but these stories are exaggerated. There is red tape involved and it is a bit of a hassle, but it is to your advantage to have these credit reporting agencies and to use them to your advantage.
Credit card reporting agencies will seem much more friendly if you know how to use them for your benefit.
- Get a Credit Report Once a Year: By getting a credit report once a year, you can keep an eye on your credit record. It will help you to catch inaccuracies or even identity theft before things get out of hand. You should get one report each year from each of the 3 big reporting agencies. If you live in CO, GA, MD, MA, NJ, or VT you may be entitled to a free report once per year. Many other states have limited the amount the credit card reporting agencies can charge for your credit report, making them very affordable and easily accessible.
- Get a Credit Report Before a Major Purchase: A few months before you are planning to make a large purchase such as a new car or home, you should get a credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies. You want to make sure your credit report is free of errors, and if there are errors you need the time to get them corrected before applying for that large loan.
- Get a Credit Report if Denied Credit: If you have been denied a credit line by a lender, no matter how small the loan, you are entitled to a free credit report from the credit reporting agency that was used by the lender to make the decision. This is a federal law and you should take advantage if you are ever denied credit. You have 60 days from the day you were denied credit to request your free credit report.
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