Understanding Credit Cards: The Credit Bureaus

Credit and credit cards are an integral part of our economic system today. But there is a lot of misinformation and misunderstandings about credit. In this continuing series, we examine key concepts, tips and best practices when it comes to credit cards.

(10/22/2012) To ensure your credit is accurate and healthy, you need to check your credit report and score regularly. But who are the agencies that issue these scores? Knowing as much as possible about how the three main credit bureaus work helps you stay informed and in control.

The main credit scores used by credit agencies, lenders, utilities companies, and even employers are FICO scores, created by the Fair Isaac Corporation. Three agencies, TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian, use a variation on the FICO formula and their own researched information to develop a credit score. In addition, these agencies offer credit education and other services.

Each agency gathers the same type of information about consumer credit and payment histories. But each organization has different methods, and different regions in which they have coverage and reputation. That means each agency may gather different information. Additionally, while each uses FICO as the basis for their credit scores, they also use a distinct and unique formula. Taken together, this means that your credit scores may vary by agency.

Because there is more than one credit score that could be used to help lenders and other parties make decisions about your finances and qualifications, it's important to take into account all three. Regular credit checks of history and scores will ensure you have a complete picture.

And part of regularly checking your credit history? Correcting any errors that could impact your financial health and ability to get loans. Each agency offers a way to report and resolve errors on your credit report:

• TransUnion: Call 1-800-916-8800 or visit their website. To report potential identity theft, call 1-800-680-7289 as soon as possible.

• Experian: Use online forms for disputes, identity theft reports, and other issues.

• Equifax: Use online forms to address errors or other concerns. To report potential identity theft, call 1-888-397-3742.

For Additional Reading:

Why Are My Scores Different? http://www.myfico.com/crediteducation/questions/different-score-for-bureau.aspx

The Differences Between 3 Credit Bureaus:










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