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Information on the 3 National Credit Reporting Agencies or Credit Bureaus
Who are the 3 credit agencies?
The 3 national credit reporting agencies in the United States are Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union. Experian was formerly known as TRW. A fourth national credit reporting agency named Innovis exists, but does not currently seem to factor into decisions for denials of credit, insurance or employment. It is more in a development stage.
To contact the 3 national credit reporting agencies:
The three national credit agencies may be contacted directly at:
P.O. Box 740241
P.O. Box 1000
P.O. Box 2002
These national credit agencies are for-profit companies owned by their shareholders. They are not government entities or funded by the government. There are also independent, non-national, local credit bureaus throughout the country that are generally affiliated with one of the 3 national credit reporting agencies. Local bureaus are sometimes for-profit companies and sometimes non-profit associations of lender/members in a particular geographical area.
The 3 national credit reporting agencies are competitors of each other, and they do not normally share their credit information except in special cases. That is why it is important to order a credit report from all three.
Credit agencies or bureaus gather their consumer credit information by soliciting creditors such as credit card companies, banks, and lenders to join their systems and contribute their credit experience on consumers to the systems. In return for submitting information to the systems, creditor members may use the system to obtain credit information on consumers to approve credit decisions or review existing consumer accounts.
Credit agencies are generally regulated by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), which is the Federal law generally covering consumer reporting agencies including credit reporting in this country. Individual states may also have their own versions of the law.
Under Federal law credit reporting companies known as CRAs (consumer reporting agencies) have numerous responsibilities to protect consumers and their credit information. A Summary of the FCRA is at http://www.creditreporting.com/fair-credit-reporting-act/index.html .
The complete text of the FCRA Federal law is at: http://www.ftc.gov/os/statutes/fcra.htm
IN COMPLIANCE WITH THE FAIR CREDIT REPORTING ACT OF 1996...
The credit reporting industry has designated a single toll free number that will allow consumers to opt out of promotional mailing lists sold by credit reporting agencies. The system is an interactive voice mail that requests information necessary to opt out of such lists.
TO USE THE SYSTEM...
Consumers should call (888) 5 OPT OUT and follow the voice prompt. Once the information is recorded, an e-mail is sent to the three bureaus daily and posted to consumer files. The number is available 24 hours a day.