Your credit score is calculated using information contained in your credit reports, but do you know who's collecting that information?

Credit Survey Uncovers Knowledge Gaps

credit bureaus, credit reportsLast year, VantageScore and the Consumer Federation of America surveyed over 1,000 US adults about their credit knowledge. Based on the results, it's clear that many consumers could benefit from learning more about the credit bureaus.

When asked who collects the information on which credit scores are based, 31.6 percent of respondents didn't know or gave the wrong answer. The majority of consumers (68.4 percent) gave the right answer: the three main credit bureaus.

What are the Credit Bureaus?

There are three main credit bureaus in the US: TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. Their central purpose is gathering your credit and financial information and turning it into your credit reports. Your credit reports include detailed information about your current and past credit accounts, public records, adverse accounts, inquiries, and personal information. These reports are then used by credit scoring companies to calculate your credit scores.

What are Credit Reports Used For?

These reports are used by banks, lenders, and other creditors. These places will pull your credit report when you apply for credit with them and they’ll use the information in the report to better evaluate you as a possible borrower. Because your credit reports contain financial details such as your payment history on credit accounts, lenders and creditors can use this information to get a better idea of how you’ve handled credit. Additionally, employers, insurance companies, landlords, and utility providers can view your reports before making a decision about doing business with you.

How are the Bureaus Getting this Information?

The credit bureaus get your credit-related information from credit unions, banks, credit card issuers, and other lenders. They also collect public records information from the courts. Their relationships with lenders are reciprocal in nature. The bureaus get credit grantors and others to provide consumer information, and they agree to assemble it into helpful reports these institutions can use.

It should be noted that creditors may not report to all three bureaus. Some do, but others provide information to only one or two. For this reason, the information in your credit reports can vary from one bureau to the next. This is also one reason why your credit score can differ depending on which report it was based on.

Why Should I Care about the Bureaus and my Reports?

Consumers should be concerned with what's in their credit reports because of the big role they play in your financial life. Keeping up with your credit helps you better understand it, allowing you to better manage and maintain good credit.

Also, finding an error or inaccurate information on your credit reports is a common problem. You want to make sure all of the information in your reports is accurate so it realistically reflects your credit situation. You're allowed to file a dispute for errors found in your reports and have them removed.

How Can I Get my Credit Reports?

You can get a free copy of your credit report from each of the three bureaus every 12 months. You can request them directly from the bureau or by visiting If you've already used your free copy, you can also request another for a small fee.

Contrary to popular belief, checking your own credit will not hurt your credit score. When you check your own credit, this is known as a soft inquiry. When you apply for credit and a lender pulls your report, it's a hard inquiry, which will knock your score down a few points.

The Bottom Line

There's a lot going in with the credit bureaus and your credit reports. Gaining a better understanding will work to your advantage when you need credit, such as an auto loan.

If your credit issues are keeping you from getting the car loan you need, let Auto Credit Express help you. We connect consumers to local dealerships that are capable of handling unique situations. Get started by filling out our free and easy car loan request form today.