Credit Reporting Agencies are institutions which collect information on consumers' credit histories which they then make available to credit and lending companies which request these. Credit Reporting Agencies are also known as Credit Bureaus.
The credit history of a consumer is aquired through those companies which grant credit to the individual; i.e. retailers, banks, credit unions, etc. The credit reporting agencies fashion all this information into what is known as a Credit Report. Credit-offering enterprises pay a fee to the credit bureaus to obtain credit reports of individuals they are interested in granting credit priviledges to.
Note that the agencies do not grant credit. However, it is possible to obtain a copy of your credit report from these companies - under the Fair Credit Reporting Act - for a fee. Your credit report usually contains the following information:
Your social security number, address, and marital status.
Names of persons or institutions which have requested a copy of your credit file in the last six months. In the case of employers, the report may contain names of those who have requested your credit history in the last two years.
Lawsuits and court judgements against you. Thes are usually reported for seven years.
Bankruptcies and foreclosures against you which are part of the public record. Bankruptcies can legally be reported for 10 years although some credit bureaus list chapter 13 bankruptcies for only seven years.
Criminal records and tax liens against you are usually recorded for seven years. legally however, these may be reported for the duration of the relevant statute of limitations if you apply for high amounts of credit ( $150,000 or more.)or for a high paying job ( $ 75.000 per year or more. )
Identity of your employer and your estimated income.
Detailed breakdown of the nature and history of your credit payments to your creditors.
It is important to review your credit report periodically. It is possible for erroneous or outdated information to remain in credit files. If your employment, legal or marital status has changed, you should make sure your credit report reflects this. A review is also important in cases where you have engaged in disputes with creditors involving your account. It is necessary to verify that the correct result or status of such disputes is reflected in your credit file.
It is also possible for your file to contain honest mistakes such as erroneous social security numbers, addresses and names so that legal activity you have no involvement in shows up on your record.
Credit inquiries older than two years should not be on your account. Check for these. In addition, the specific details of your past accounts may be detailed incorrectly. Make sure that all past account disputes now settled are not listed as open.