There are three major Credit Reporting Agencies (CRAs): TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. These CRAs receive information about you, store it in their respective databases, and release it to various, authorized parties, such as lenders.
The information they obtain comes from your previous applications to obtain credit (that’s where the employment and residency history comes from), electronically from your creditors (that’s where your payment history comes from), and participating county courthouses (that’s where the public record information comes from). There are many different types of creditors who report to the CRAs, such as credit card companies, banks, department stores, leasing agencies, collection companies, student loan services, and various utilities (electric, gas, water, sewage, etc.) among others. Also, many don’t realize that some landlords, property management companies, and homeowner’s associations report to the CRAs as well. The CRAs are a revolving door of information (receivers and providers), and it is their legal responsibility to ensure its accuracy. See Correcting Errors and learn about your rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
Your credit report contains factual information about your employment, residency, social security number, date of birth, creditors, and payment history for the past seven years and public record information such as bankruptcies and foreclosures for the past 10 years. It will also contain the name of each of your creditors, your account number, the month/year you obtained the credit, the amount of credit offered, your current balance, your required monthly payment, the month/year of most recent activity in the account, the month/year the creditor most recently reported your information to the CRA, and your payment history – how many times 30, 60, or 90 + days late.
Your credit report also contains a section entitled, "Inquiries." Each time you apply for credit, your credit report is normally accessed. A record of this creditor name is posted on your report, typically for 120 days. This way, other creditors can see if you have been attempting to obtain new credit elsewhere. The version of your report the lender will review also cross references various terrorist and federal government watch lists that prohibit credit extension.
Because the sources of information may report to one and/or all three bureaus, the database record of your information may be slightly different among the different CRAs. The creditor/lender/permitted evaluator may access your report from one, two, or all three bureaus to produce your credit report, depending upon the needed level of analysis.
Your credit report will NOT contain a "credit score." This is another matter – see Credit Scoring & Grading.
See additional Helpful Resources listed on the right for further information regarding credit-related topics and feel free to contact PMC directly if you have any questions regarding this and other helpful topics located within this website.