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So How Many Consumer Reporting Companies Are There?
July 17, 2012
04:57 PM EDT
Ed note: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) announced yesterday that they adopted a rule to begin supervising larger consumer reporting agencies, which include what are popularly called credit bureaus or credit reporting companies. This is the first time these companies will be supervised at the federal level. This blog post, originally published on the CFPB blog, explains what this will mean for consumers.
You may know about the three biggest nationwide credit reporting companies: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. But did you know that there are other companies out there that may be providing reports on you that could be used to decide if you’re eligible for consumer financial, insurance, medical and other products?
Today the CFPB is posting a list of consumer reporting companies – companies that collect information and write reports that could be used to decide if you will be able to get credit, insurance, or a job. This list doesn’t cover every company in the industry. It’s a list of companies that have identified themselves as consumer reporting companies or provide consumers access to their consumer reports. (1) The list includes both the biggest nationwide credit reporting companies and a longer list of “specialty reporting companies.”
Specialty reporting companies focus on certain industries. Just like the three biggest nationwide credit reporting companies, specialty reporting companies collect and share information with creditors and other businesses. There are a lot of these companies on the list, so we’re also trying to give tips on which of them may be important to you. The list also has information about how you can get copies of your reports (see below).
So we encourage you to take a look at the list of companies and think about which ones might be reporting on you. It’s important to ask for your report from those companies so you can correct any mistakes or see whether anyone’s been trying to hijack your identity. For example, if you’re going to rent a new apartment or home, ask the landlord what tenant background company they use, if any.
You can access the list here. Keep the following in mind:
- You should check your reports from at least Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion every year, which you can do for free at AnnualCreditReport.com.
- The list includes information on companies that will provide free reports.
- Just like the biggest credit reporting companies, there are nationwide specialty reporting companies, and they have to give you one free report every 12 months, upon request.
- Additionally, consumer reporting companies will provide a free report “>if an adverse action has been taken against you based on information in your report or under other specific circumstances.
You may not need to check with every single specialty company on the list. Many may not even have any information about you. But you may want to check with some or all of these companies:
- If you were a victim of identity theft or think someone may have fraudulently cashed checks under your bank account;
- Before applying for insurance;
- Before applying for a lease;
- If you’ve applied for a new job and your potential new employer asks for your written authorization to get a report.
- The type of information collected may vary by the company and its specialty industry.
- You have to request the reports individually from each reporting company. Different companies collect information about different things: your medical records or payments, residential or tenant history, check-writing history, employment history, or insurance claims.
You’re welcome to read through the entire list top-to-bottom. We’ve also arranged it by specialty, and you can follow links from the first page to the appropriate section of the list. The list covers the following specialties:
- Nationwide Credit-Reporting Companies
- Specialty Reporting Companies:
- Check screening and check history
- Payday lending reports
- Auto and property insurance history
- Alternative/supplementary credit reports
- Rental history
If you have information about this list that you’d like to share with us – for example, if you work for a specialty reporting company that’s not on this list and should be – please email us at CFPB_Specialty_Reporting@cfpb.gov. For tips on keeping a good credit score and managing credit, explore Ask CFPB and the CFPB’s blog.
- The CFPB today issued a Consumer Advisory about credit reporting. And added information on consumer reporting companies to Ask CFPB. They want to help you learn more about what goes into your credit reports, how you can get free copies, and how to fix any errors you might find.
- Find out more about Wall Street Reform and the protections that have been put in place for American consumers
1. This list includes entities that have identified themselves as consumer reporting companies or particular types of consumer reporting companies or have indicated when they provide consumers access to their consumer reports. The list incorporates information from the companies’ own self-descriptions that has not been independently verified by the Bureau. It is not intended by the Bureau to be an all-inclusive list, nor does it reflect any determinations by the Bureau as to whether any particular entity is or is not subject to the Fair Credit Reporting Act or any part thereof or complying with it. Furthermore, presence on or absence from the list does not indicate whether the consumer reporting company is subject to the CFPB’s supervisory authority.