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Credit Bureaus Are Not Goverment Bodies - GreenPointe Financial

About Credit Reporting Agencies (CRA's)

A United States (U.S.) credit bureau, or a United Kingdom (U.K.)

credit reference agency is a company that collects information

from various sources and provides consumer credit information

on individual consumers for a variety of uses.  

In the United States, the legal term for a credit bureau under the

federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is Consumer Reporting

Agency (CRA). These organizations are for-profit businesses and

possess no government affiliation. Though they are competitors,

they have formed a trade organization called the Consumer Data

Industry Association (CDIA). This associations primary

responsibility is to establish reporting standards and to lobby on

the behalf of consumer issues in Washington, D.C.

Most United States consumer credit information is collected and

kept by four national credit reporting agencies: Experian (which purchased the files and other assets of TRW), Equifax,

TransUnion, and Innovis (which was purchased from First Data Corporation in 1999 by CBC Companies).

Financial data and alternative data on individuals is obtained

from a variety of sources called data furnishers with which the

bureaus have a relationship. Data furnishers are typically

creditors, lenders, utilities, debt collection agencies and the

courts (i.e. public records) that a consumer has had a

relationship or experience data provided by the furnishers as

well as collected by the bureaus is then aggregated into the

credit bureau's data repository or files.

The resulting information is made available on request to

customers of the credit bureau for the purpose of credit risk

assessment. These assessments include credit scoring, the

ability to pay back a loan, interest rates, terms of a loan, etc.,

and these things help lenders access ones overall credit

worthiness. The information can also be used for other

purposes such as leasing an apartment and employment

consideration.

Credit bureau consumer protections and general rules governing guidelines for both the credit bureaus and data furnishers are the

federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA), Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA), and

Regulation B.

Two government bodies share responsibility for the oversight of

credit bureaus and those that furnish data to them. The Federal

Trade Commission (FTC) oversees the consumer credit bureaus.

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) charters,

regulates, and supervises all national banks with regard to the

data they furnish credit bureaus.

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