What Are National Credit Bureaus?

Credit bureaus are agencies that collect and compile information about credit behavior from your creditors. These would include banks, credit card companies and all institutions that extend loans and credit. They also collect information from public records like federal court judgments for bankruptcy and tax liens. In certain states information on child support payment is also listed.

There are 3 main national credit bureaus. There names and addresses are as follows.

Equifax
P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374
1-800-685-1111

Experian
P.O. Box 2002
Allen, TX 75013
1 888 397 3742

TransUnion
P.O. Box 1000
Chester, PA 19022
1-800-888-4213.

Every creditor is given the choice under the Fair Credit Reporting Act to send information to the National credit bureaus about its consumers are not. Various creditors report to the credit bureaus while some do not.  The information that is sent includes details about your credit account such as active accounts, the balance, payment schedule, missed payments and the defaulted accounts. Usually this information is sent to the credit bureaus for transcription on a monthly basis of depending upon the payment schedule. For example, an insurance company may only update consumers information once a year when the annual premium is due. If a creditor wants to report to a credit bureau they normally have two join their program.

The credit bureaus compile this information and create a report on your credit behavior and history which is commonly known as a credit report.  This report is available to businesses and government institutions who have what is known as a " permissible purpose". In order to read more about what qualifies as permissible purpose read this article about who all can access your credit report.

Most of the credit providing companies who report to the credit bureaus work on the basis of a mutual exchange of information.  They provide the credit bureaus with data for the consumers who they extend credit to and at the same time access the credit reports of various other potential customers, as long as their enquiry false within the premise of the "permissible purpose".

The National credit bureaus also provide a scale represented by either a number an alphanumeric string. This is what is known as the credit score. The credit score is the summation of what your credit history and credit report represents your credit worthiness to be.  The higher credit score that you have means that you represent a lesser risk to creditors in terms of credit extension. Initially the National credit bureaus used to use a scoring model called the FICO score which was developed by a third party. But now they have developed their own intrinsic scoring models such as the VantageScore. While you may get a free copy of your credit report from all the three national credit bureaus once a year, your credit score is normally only available for a fee.