Credit Infocenter
Call Lexington Law 800.461.0524 for a FREE Credit Repair Consultation

Credit Info Center's Credit Bureau FAQs

Credit Bureau FAQs

Last Updated: March 1, 2017

With all that credit bureaus know about us, it can be an unsettling feeling when we know very little about them. How do they get their information? How often does this information change? How do they know if it’s accurate? What do they do if there’s a mistake? How are credit bureaus regulated? Below are answers to these and other commonly asked questions about how credit bureaus work.

About Credit Bureaus

How Credit Bureaus Update

Credit Bureaus Used by Lenders

What are credit bureaus?

Credit bureaus – also known as credit reporting agencies – are companies that collect information about your credit history. They use this information to generate credit reports and credit scores. Both of these credit rating tools can be accessed by you, as well as anyone with permissible purpose who’s considering you for a loan or service requiring a credit check. Back to Top

What do credit bureaus do?

Credit bureaus:

Back to Top

Why are credit reporting agencies important?

The only way lenders know whether you’re a good credit risk or not depends on your credit history. And that history is documented by the credit reporting agencies. It’s this documentation and rating system – in the form of credit reports and scores – that gives lenders the knowledge they need to make sound lending decisions. Back to Top

How many credit bureaus are there?

While there are numerous consumer reporting agencies, there are only three major credit bureaus. And though there is good reason to check your reports from other consumer reporting agencies, it’s the big three that matter most – TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. You never know which credit bureau potential lenders will use, so it’s important to monitor all three. Back to Top

Why are there three credit bureaus?

The origins of credit reporting date back to the nineteenth century when businesses started sharing whether customers paid their debts or not. Companies tasked with compiling this information have grown and consolidated over the years, a process by which three credit bureaus came out on top – TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. Learn more about their history. Back to Top

Which of the 3 credit bureaus is most important?

The most important credit bureau is the one a lender or company uses when considering you for credit or for a service requiring a credit check (e.g., cell phone service, car rental). But since you never know which credit bureau is going to be used, that means all three bureaus – TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax – are equally important. Back to Top

Which of the 3 credit bureaus is most accurate?

It depends, as data furnishers can report credit history to their choice of credit bureau(s). If a creditor only reports to TransUnion, your good (or bad) credit history with that creditor will only be reflected in your TransUnion report. The same is true if the creditor reports something in error. Only the TransUnion report would reflect the inaccuracy. Back to Top

Which credit reporting agency should I use?

You should use all three. This means regular monitoring of your credit with TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. You can see all three of your credit reports for free through AnnualCreditReport.com every 12 months. You can also sign up with free credit monitoring sites to keep an eye on your credit reports (and scores) all year long. Back to Top

Are credit bureaus government agencies?

No, credit bureaus are not government agencies. They are private, for-profit companies. However, credit bureaus are subject to government regulation. The Fair Credit Reporting Act outlines what credit bureaus can (and cannot) do regarding:

Back to Top

Who regulates credit bureaus?

Credit bureaus are regulated by the Federal Trade Commission. The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act also gave regulatory authority to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Credit bureaus are subject to the rules of the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The big three are also members of the Consumer Data Industry Association, which establishes credit reporting standards. Back to Top

Are credit bureaus non-profit?

No, credit bureaus are not non-profit organizations that monitor credit as a public service. Yes, it’s an important service, but it’s a private one. TransUnion, Experian and Equifax are for-profit companies. Not only do they charge lenders – and other companies with permissible purpose – who want to check your credit. They also charge you for access to your credit. Back to Top

How do credit bureaus make money?

Credit bureaus charge fees to lenders and other companies that want to check your credit. They also charge consumers for subscription-based credit monitoring for consumers. TransUnion charges consumers $9.95 a month. Experian charges $21.95 a month. And Equifax charges $19.95 a month. But there are other (free) ways to see your credit reports and scores. Back to Top

Are credit bureaus open on weekends?

No, the credit bureaus do not keep weekend hours. You can contact the bureaus by phone on the following days and times: TransUnion Monday through Friday, 8 am to 11 pm (EST); Experian Monday through Friday, 7 am to 7 pm (CST); and Equifax Monday through Friday (times not provided). Note, submit credit disputes via regular mail. Back to Top

How do credit reporting agencies get information?

Lenders and other data furnishers report details of your accounts to credit bureaus. Some report to bureaus whether payment history is good or bad (e.g., credit card issuers, auto lenders, mortgage lenders). And some accounts only show up on credit reports if they go into collections (e.g., utility accounts, cell phone accounts, medical accounts). Back to Top

When do credit bureaus update?

Credit bureaus update account details often as they receive new information from data furnishers. It happens monthly, but specific dates vary from one data furnisher to the next. Experian says some things get updated immediately, like credit inquiries. And others take time, like public records, which may not appear on reports for a week, a month, or more. Back to Top

When do credit bureaus update your score?

Credit scores are determined by what’s on credit reports. And since credit reports can be updated any day of the month, credit scores can update just as frequently. As explained by Equifax, your credit score is "calculated based on the most recent up-to-date credit information available, so it could change every day as [data furnishers] report new data." Back to Top

How do credit bureaus investigate disputes?

After receiving a credit dispute letter from you, the credit bureau forwards your dispute – and supporting documentation – to the data furnisher who provided the information in question. If the data furnisher is unable to verify the accuracy of the disputed item, the credit bureau will correct it. See how TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax describe details of their dispute process. Back to Top

Which credit bureau do banks use?

If you’re applying to a bank for a loan, they could use any one of the three bureaus to check your credit. If you want to know which one they’ll use, simply ask. If you’re opening a checking or savings account, the bank may use a consumer reporting agency that tracks your previous banking history, such as ChexSystems. Back to Top

What credit reporting agency does Chase use?

According to the Credit Pulls Database, Chase seems to pull predominantly from Experian and TransUnion, but also from Equifax. You can use the Credit Pulls Database to search for recent credit pulls by Chase in your state. Just keep in mind this list is not exhaustive, as it only includes pulls shared by database contributors. Back to Top

What credit reporting agency does Discover use?

According to the Credit Pulls Database, Discover seems to pull mostly from Experian and Equifax, but occasionally from TransUnion. You can use the Credit Pulls Database to search for recent credit pulls by Discover in your state. Just keep in mind this list is not exhaustive, as it only includes pulls shared by database contributors. Back to Top

What credit reporting agency does American Express use?

According to the Credit Pulls Database, American Express seems to pull exclusively from Experian. You can use the Credit Pulls Database to search for recent credit pulls by American Express in your state. Just keep in mind that this list is not an exhaustive one, as it only includes pulls shared by database contributors. Back to Top

What credit reporting agency does CitiBank use?

According to the Credit Pulls Database, Citibank seems to pull predominantly from Experian and Equifax. You can use the Credit Pulls Database to search for recent credit pulls by Citibank in your state. Just keep in mind that this list is not an exhaustive one, as it only includes pulls shared by database contributors. Back to Top

What credit reporting agency does Wells Fargo use?

According to the Credit Pulls Database, Wells Fargo seems to pull mostly from Experian and TransUnion, but occasionally from Equifax. You can use the Credit Pulls Database to search for recent credit pulls by Wells Fargo in your state. Just keep in mind this list is not exhaustive, as it only includes pulls shared by database contributors. Back to Top

What credit reporting agency does Bank of America use?

According to the Credit Pulls Database, Bank of America seems to pull predominantly from Experian and TransUnion, but occasionally from Equifax. You can use the database to search for recent credit pulls by Bank of America in your state. Just keep in mind this list is not exhaustive, as it only includes pulls shared by database contributors. Back to Top

What credit reporting agency does Walmart use?

According to the Credit Pulls Database, Walmart seems to pull mostly from TransUnion, but occasionally from Experian. You can use the Credit Pulls Database to search for recent credit pulls by Walmart in your state. Just keep in mind this list is not an exhaustive one, as it only includes pulls shared by database contributors. Didn’t find the answer to your question here? Ask in our free, friendly forum on credit bureaus, reports, and scores. Back to Top

Call 800.461.0524 and speak to a Credit Repair Expert at Lexington Law
Have Questions About Credit Repair? Get Answers with a FREE Consultation
Call Lexington Law 1-800-461-0524