General Credit Bureau Information

You can locate relevant credit bureau information at one of the three primary credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian and Trans Union. These are not government entities; they are private corporations that use information available on your financial history to compile reports. These reports, called credit reports, can be requested by individuals who have access to your personal information. Credit reports are used by lenders, landlords and employers to name a few. 

How Credit Bureaus Started

The need for credit bureaus did not arise until the mid-1900s. Prior to that time, many towns were small enough that only one primary lender existed for each borrower to use. The lender was able to track information for the borrower without using a third-party. When people began moving around to different cities and cities grew to encompass multiple lenders, the history of credit bureaus officially began. There was a need for companies to begin tracking personal financial information more effectively. The main reason for this was to prevent a person from defaulting on a number of loans in one area then receiving a clean slate by moving to another. Today, credit bureaus track credit score information across city and state lines. 

How Credit Bureaus Get Information

Your lenders are the ones who inform credit bureaus how you perform on your loans. Anytime you make a payment, the lender notifies the credit bureaus. Today, this is all done through electronic notifications through the Internet. Your credit is monitored instantaneously. If you borrow from an individual who is not hooked in to the credit bureau system, then your actions with that lender will not affect your credit score. However, the vast majority of lenders are now able to pass information to and receive information from the credit bureaus.

How Credit Bureaus Make Money

Credit bureaus make money every time someone's credit is checked with them. For example, if your new landlord decides to check with Trans Union to see if your credit is strong, that landlord will pay a fee for the check. You will have to provide personal information to give the landlord access to the account. Many lenders today ask you to pay an application fee, part of which is applied to this expense. When you pay to monitor your credit through one of the bureaus, you are also contributing to that company's profit.

How to Monitor Your Credit with a Bureau

Monitoring your credit has become common practice today. The Internet has made it easy to regularly check your credit score through any of the three bureaus or through an independent company. The practice is common because it helps protect against identity theft and misreporting. It is also a good idea to know your credit score range before entering any loan discussion. To start monitoring your credit, contact any one of the credit bureaus. You should ask for the options for individuals, such as Equifax personal solutions, instead of options for businesses or creditors. You will be charged a fee to maintain constant monitoring, but the fee is usually small.