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The Credit Bureau

Some consumers wonder, what exactly does the credit bureau do? The answer is many things, and a lot of them can affect a consumer’s financial future.

In the United States, there are three major credit check bureaus fighting for the label of “the credit bureau”—Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. Each of these credit check bureaus assembles their information on consumers differently, so their information may vary in accuracy and credit scores may vary as a result. Many companies and banks around the country, as well as other kind of lenders including mortgage companies, will contact the credit bureau before extending a credit offer to a customer. All credit card companies consult with the credit bureau before starting a relationship with a new customer. Some even consult with a the credit bureau before sending out “pre-approved” credit card offers to consumers. Since the information between the three can vary, determining which is the better credit bureau is subjective.

Prospective lenders all have different standards for what is and is not an acceptable credit score, and the information provided by the credit bureau will help them make a decision on whether or not to extend credit, how much credit and at what interest rate. Since the decisions of the credit bureau can cost consumers a lot of money, time and frustration, it is important to make sure that the information they have is accurate. Information provided by one bureau could help a consumer get a loan while another could cause a rejection.

Thanks to federal legislation, consumers can check on information from the credit bureau for them by visiting a single Web site. All three major credit check bureaus, Equifax, TransUnion and Experian, are now required by law to give consumers access to their credit reports for free once a year. By going to annualcreditreport.com, consumers can see what their credit report holds. All three reports can be different, so receiving all three is important to make sure your credit has not been adversely affected in a way that was picked up by one credit agency and missed by others.

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