This is the first of two columns offering consumers basic information on credit reports and credit scores.
The information comes from the Federal Reserve Board’s “Credit Reports and Credit Scores” (available at www.federalreserve.gov/creditreports/).
Credit reports are maintained by the three major credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
The bureaus collect information from a variety of sources such as banks, credit card issuers, finance companies and even public records. Since sources may vary, it is possible for credit bureaus to have records about the same person with information that varies as well.
The bureaus provide information collected to those who request it and have a legitimate business need for the information.
Requestors may include lenders who gave you credit or from whom you are seeking credit, insurance companies that have or may provide insurance coverage and from employers or potential employers (with your permission).
Also, requests may come, for example, from a potential landlord, a bank at which you are opening a checking account, utility and telephone companies deciding to provide services and government agencies considering awarding benefits,
Since the credit report is important, it is wise to review it for accuracy.
The law provides for one free credit report from each of the three nationwide reporting bureaus every 12 months. The free annual report is available at www.annualcreditreport.com (make sure you enter the correct address).