Credit Bureau Basics

Understanding Credit Bureau Basics –

Credit bureau information from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion plays a major role in the calculation of your credit score. Every credit bureau is independent of the other, which means different information may be reported to each of them from your creditors. In order to get an accurate credit score, it's a good idea to check your credit report with all three bureaus, or order a merged report, which consolidates the information from all bureaus into one easy to read report.

Credit Bureau Basics


A credit report allows you to see how potential lenders see you as a credit risk. In addition, reviewing your credit report regularly is a great way to discover identity theft, credit card abuse, and other errors before they destroy your chances of getting a loan with the best possible terms and conditions. If you're applying for a mortgage loan or an auto loan, checking your credit score can help you anticipate any problems you may have.

Credit reports are not always accurate, to say the least. According to a report by US PIRG, up to 70 percent of credit reports contain errors of some sort. When you receive a credit report from one of the three national bureaus, you receive information about all of your current accounts as well as your history. A thorough examination of these reports can pay off for years to come.

Credit scores range anywhere from 300 to 990 points, depending on the scoring model used. Your score is calculated by taking bureau information, and the final score is based on your credit history and overall performance in five different categories. Those categories include payment history, length of history, new credit, types of credit used, and total debt. Of all these factors, your payment history basics bear the most weight on your final score.

Inside Your Report

These are in essence a financial report card that provides details on how you’ve handled your credit in the past, and how you will likely handle them in the future. These reports contain indentifying information, credit information, as well as public records and inquiries.

  • Identifying Information:

  • Your name
  • Current and previous addresses
  • Social Security number
  • Year of birth
  • Current and previous employers
  • Spouse's name

Credit Information:

This section includes credit accounts or loans you hold with institutions such as banks, finance companies or credit unions, retailers, credit card issuers, and other lenders.

Public Records:

This includes information garnered from state and county court records, such as bankruptcies, tax liens, monetary judgments, and delinquent child support.

Credit Report Inquiries:

This refers to authorized requests to view your credit report and specifically applies to two occasions.

  • You have applied for new credit.
  • Routine checks from existing creditors and ordering your free report online, both of which do not impact your score.

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