Credit Infocenter

The History of TransUnion – Comin’ on Like a Freight Train (part 2 of 3)

July 16th, 2008 · 4 Comments · Credit Bureaus and Scores, Credit Reports

by Kristy Welsh

(Last Updated On: May 7, 2015)

TransUnion was created in 1968 by Union Tank Car Company as their holding company. Union Tank Car Company is a railway equipment leasing company (and car maintenance / manufacturing) headquartered in metro Chicago, Illinois. As the name says, they specialize in tank cars, and covered hopper cars. It was founded in 1866 by Jacob J. (J. J.) Vandergrift, in response to the economic activities of Standard Oil. Vandergrift was involved in the conflicts in the oil regions of Western Pennsylvania in the 1860s–1870s. Eventually, Union Tank Car Company and his other holdings, which included pipeline and riverboat transport companies, merged with the company that later became Standard Oil. Rockefeller, once Captain Vandergrift’s nemesis, made him Vice President of Standard Oil. Vandergrift also had a town built and named in his honor by George G. McMurtry in Western Pennsylvania in 1895.

TransUnion’s credit business began with the purchase of Credit Bureau of Cook County (CBCC) in 1969. Trans Union’s credit holdings were built from acquisitions of major city credit bureaus, with service agreements with local owners of bureaus not for sale. Today it operates 250 offices in the U.S. and in 24 other countries. It is based in Chicago, Illinois.

Union Tank Car Company sold TransUnion to The Marmon Group in 1981. It was a subsidiary of that company until January 2005, when privatization in the economic environment of Sorbanes-Oxley made spinning off TransUnion as an independent, privately held company very attractive.

Transunion’s main business is credit reporting and data services for businesses. It also sells credit reports through and also does employment screens through Transunion’s PEER (Pre-Employment Evaluation Report), healthcare evaluations and a whole range of data-driven business risk management solutions.

This post is Part 2 of 3 of our series on the history of the credit bureaus. See Part 1 on Experian here.  See Part 3 on Equifax here.

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