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What You Should Know About Credit Bureaus

In the United States, the legal term for a credit bureau under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is a consumer reporting agency — often abbreviated in the industry as CRA.

In the United States, key credit reporting agency consumer protections and general rules or governing guidelines for both the credit reporting agencies and data furnishers are the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA), Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA), and Regulation B.

Two government bodies share responsibility for the oversight of credit reporting agencies and those that furnish data to them. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has oversight for the consumer credit reporting agencies. The Office of the Controller of the Currency (OCC) charters, regulates, and supervises all national banks with regard to the data they furnish credit reporting agencies.

Most U.S. consumer credit information is collected and kept by the four national traditional credit reporting agencies: Experian (formerly TRW Information Systems & Services and the CCN Group), Equifax, TransUnion, and Innovis (which was purchased from First Data Corporation in 1999 by CBC Companies). These organizations are for-profit businesses and possess no government affiliation. Though they are competitors, they have formed a trade organization called the Consumer Data Industry Association (CDIA) to establish reporting standards and lobby on behalf of their industry issues in Washington. Current reporting standards accepted by the four U.S. CRAs are Metro and Metro2. The Metro2 standard is defined in the annual CDIA publication, the Credit Reporting Resource Guide. Consumers are entitled to a free annual credit report from each of the three nationwide consumer reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Consumers can go to annualcreditreport.com, the Internet site maintained by the three companies, to get their free report.

There are dozens of other similar information collection and reporting firms that analyze and sell information about consumers for other purposes, including those who aggregate multiple credit data sources and provide lenders with customized analytical tools. Furthermore, there are also non-traditional credit reporting agencies.

PRBC (Payment Reporting Builds Credit, Inc.) is a national alternative credit bureau. Incorporated in March 2002, PRBC enables consumers to self-enroll and build a positive credit file by reporting their on-time payments (such as rent, utilities, cable, and phone) that are not automatically reported to the three traditional credit bureaus.

In the U.S., there are six business or commercial bureau repositories (in alphabetical order): Cortera, Dun & Bradstreet, Experian Business, Equifax Small Business Financial Exchange (SBFE), PayNet, and Southeastern Association of Credit Management (SACM).

Information Provided By Wikipedia