By now, you know that it’s a smart move to regularly review your credit report. You might wonder, though, which credit report is the best one to review or which one a creditor (or employer, or landlord) will see.
Users have a variety of credit reports.
There really are three major credit-reporting agencies in the United States. Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion are the three companies. They each keep a file on U.S. consumers who are eligible for one. Somebody must report data about you to the agency in order for you to have a credit report. The majority of adults in the United States have a credit report, although it is possible to not have one. You may not have had a file if you do not even have credit accounts or if you do have accounts with creditors who do not report data. For these reasons, it is feasible to get a credit history on file with one or two of the three credit bureaus, but not all three.
Furthermore, reporting is entirely voluntary. It is not that all creditors file reports, and most do not file reports with all three agencies. If you previously had a credit report and all of your account holders have expired, you may no longer have a credit report.
Reportable data does indeed take other forms, regardless of whether you have credit data in your history. Hundreds of speciality credit bureaus collect information specific to specific industries.
Who can access your reports?
The law restricts access to either of your reports. In general, any entity with a legitimate need for your report can ask for a copy of it. In a broad sense, "legitimate" implies that you have given permission. Creditors, banks, employers, landlords, and insurers who want to run a credit check will need your permission or will reject your application. The same is true for utility companies and cell phone companies, and in those cases, you can often avoid the credit report by paying a bank deposit instead.
Once you pay with such a personal check, you also give a vendor tacit permission to check a specific type of retail report. The payment will be declined if you have a history of bouncing checks.
Debt collectors have the authority to check your credit file without your knowledge.
Why do all of these credit reports matter?
Consumers who are astute ensure the information provided is correct. Errors can lower your credit score, result in application denial, or result in very poor aspects of the good or service you want. Out-of-date information can make you the target of relentless debt collection efforts. Identity theft can cause all of these consequences and more.
You probably don't need to submit a request to all of the reporting agencies at the same time. Ask for a copy of your branch of medicine's report before applying for life insurance. Check one tenant's speciality report before applying for an apartment.
You have the right to challenge incorrect information with the company that provided it. No agency is required to remove existing, reliable information, as to whether it is positive or negative. If you have a complaint about a report or the agency that produced it, you should file it with the CFPB.
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