Knowing Something About Credit Reporting Agencies Can Help Protect You From Common Reporting Errors
If you’re researching a list of credit reporting agencies, then it’s likely that you just found out that you’ll need to submit to some kind of consumer analysis like a credit or background check. Maybe you need to complete a credit check as part of the loan application process (such as a mortgage, auto finance, or home equity loan). Maybe you’re trying to open or extend your available credit through a credit card company. Maybe you’ve applied for a new job that requires a criminal background check. Maybe you need to complete a tenant screening to get approval for a rental property. No matter your particular situation, the ways credit reporting agencies in the USA impact our lives are direct and ever-present.
We’ve compiled a comprehensive credit reporting agencies list, and if you’re just looking for names, scroll down. But when you’re dealing with credit reporting agencies, we think it’s really helpful to understand what these companies are, their role in our consumer economy, how they can impact your life, and who can help if things go wrong.
How do we know what we’re talking about? We’re a nationwide law firm of consumer protection attorneys with over seventy-five years of experience helping consumers recover from devastating reporting errors. So keep reading, check out the list, and reach out to ask questions about your situation. We’re here to help, and our consultations are always free.
Credit Reporting Agencies are Consumer Reporting Agencies
Surprise! Even though this article is about credit reporting agencies, the actual legal term for these companies is consumer reporting agencies (also known as CRAs). “Consumer reporting agencies” is a legal term to describe national credit reporting companies that engage in certain reporting behaviors in the consumer data industry regulated by federal and state law, including the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).
The term credit reporting agency is an informal (though often-utilized) alternative to the formal (and legally accurate) term consumer reporting agency. In fact, sometimes, people mix the two terms together to create other variations of the same concept, such as “consumer credit reporting agencies.”
Since many people search for information using the informal term (credit reporting agencies), we’re happy to use it here as we explain what these companies do. Just know that when you look at the applicable law, “consumer reporting agencies” is the formal term for the same thing.
If any of the data in a consumer report about you is wrong, you’ll likely work with a credit report lawyer to resolve the situation. If you file a lawsuit and assert your rights under the FCRA, you’ll get used to discussing these companies as consumer reporting agencies.
Information on Credit Reporting Companies
What are credit reporting agencies? All credit reporting agencies are companies that operate in the for-profit consumer data industry. In particular, these companies sell reports about consumers to other companies or clients who want to know specific information. Credit reporting agencies use a combination of algorithms and human efforts to gather, sort, and review data and generate reports that categorize the data into easy-to-read segments.
There are more than three credit reporting Agencies.
You are most likely familiar with the main credit reporting agencies- Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. Sometimes referred to as the main credit bureau reporting agencies or just the credit bureaus, these are the top 3 credit reporting agencies. This means these are the 3 major credit reporting agencies that are the largest, get used the most, and have the most name recognition among consumers. They are truly national credit reporting companies.
However, there are different credit reporting agencies that represent all kinds of companies in the business of making these reports, including gaming credit check companies, employment screening companies, tenant screening companies, utilities companies, personal property insurance companies, medical companies, and others. Some people only know of the top credit reporting agencies and are surprised to learn that several dozen smaller credit reporting agencies exist.
Where do credit reporting agencies get their information?
Credit reporting agencies, whether one of the three major credit reporting agencies (aka the credit bureaus) or one of the secondary credit reporting agencies, all get their data from one of several places:
- Data furnishers. You have a direct relationship with these companies, such as your bank, credit card company, service providers, mortgage lender, etc. Credit reporting agencies primarily use algorithms to collect and sort data.
- Third-party companies. These companies do not have a direct relationship with you. Instead, they use their algorithms to scan criminal and civil databases for information that they sell to the credit reporting agencies. This information can include criminal records, driving records, municipal and property records, etc.
- Data gathering teams. Depending on the nature of the report, some credit reporting agencies have internal teams of people who conduct some of the data gathering directly. For instance, a company specializing in employment background checks may use direct phone calls to your former employers and educational institutions to verify the information provided in your resume.
What are the Top 3 Credit Reporting Agencies?
Importantly, three main credit reporting agencies are worth singling out for a closer look. Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion are the credit bureaus. Though this title sounds official, it simply identifies them as the powerhouse companies among the US credit reporting agencies. When you talk about checking your credit score or credit report, these are the companies you’d use.
In fact, the credit bureaus are so well-established and ubiquitous that the federal government acknowledges them as the only sources where you can access free weekly credit reports, which you are entitled to under the law. There are three ways to request a copy: online at annualcreditreport.com, by phone at 877-322-8228, or by mailing a request form, which can be printed at annualcreditreport.com. Online requests should only be made through this government-verified site.
In addition, the credit bureaus are large enough to operate subsidiary companies that offer separate, though related, consumer reporting products. For instance, along with providing class credit reports, both Experian and TransUnion also operate tenant screening report off-shoots.
Main Credit Reporting Agencies
There is notable competition for market share in the consumer data industry, including several alternative credit reporting agencies that dominate the top spot in a particular type of consumer report (such as employment background checks); it is safe to say that Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion are still the 3 main credit reporting agencies. In a consumer reporting market that currently generates approximately twenty billion dollars globally each year, these three are still responsible for a sizeable market share and have superior name recognition. In fact, they are almost synonymous with the idea of a credit report or credit score.
What are the Best and Safest Credit Reporting Agencies?
It’s important to consider what is meant by the best credit reporting agencies in the consumer data industry. In this context, the best and safest refer to the likelihood of experiencing inaccurate, misleading, or false information in your consumer report. In other words, safety and superiority are synonymous with accuracy. However, whether dealing with third-party credit reporting agencies or major credit reporting agencies, there is no data available to support the accuracy of one over all the others.
As discussed above, recent research supports the unfortunate finding that credit reporting errors impact one-third of consumers. These errors occur across the full spectrum of agencies, including the main credit reporting agencies and all others.
The List of Credit Reporting Agencies
We’ve compiled a comprehensive list of all credit reporting agencies currently operating. Scan our list of the names of credit reporting agencies to find out if the company you’re dealing with is included.
After reviewing the list, if you think you could benefit from speaking with a qualified and knowledgeable background check lawyer, don’t hesitate to reach out. Our consultations are always free, and with a nationwide practice, we’re always right where you need us to be.
National credit reporting companies
- CSC Credit Services
- Credit Technologies
- Global Payments
- Advanced Background Services
- Contemporary Information Corporation
- CoreLogic Rental Property Solutions
- First Advantage Resident Solutions
- LeasingDesk by RealPage
- On-Site by RealPage
- rTenant by Real ID
- RentGrow by Yardi Systems
- Screening Reports
- StarPoint Screening
- Tenant Data Services
Employment screening companies
- Employment Screening Resources
- IntelliCorp Records Inc.
- Sterling Talent Solutions
- Accurate Background
- Accurint by LexisNexis
- A-Check Global
- ADP Screening & Selection Services Inc.
- Advanced Background Services
- American DataBank
- Applicant Insight
- Background Information Services Inc.
- Background Investigation Bureau
- Business Information Group
- Criminal 411
- Drivers History by TransUnion
- EmployeeScreenIQ by SterlingBackcheck
- EZScreen Solutions
- First Advantage
- General Information Services
- Info Cubic
- Insight Worldwide
- International Organization for Standardization
- Kroll Background America
- National Background Data
- National Student Clearinghouse
- Professional Screening & Information
- Real ID
- Shadow Trackers
- SingleSource Services
- StarPoint Screening
- TC LogiQ
- The Work Number
- Trak-1 Technology
- Universal Background Screening
- Verifications Services Inc.
- Vertical Screen
- G4S Wackenhut
Check and bank screening
- Electronic Check Alliance Processing
- First American Payment Systems SecurChex
- Global eTelecom
- Global Payments Check Services
- Central Credit Services
- Certegy Gaming Services
- National Cred-A-Chek Inc.
- VIP Preferred
Low income and subprime
Personal property insurance
- A-PLUS Property by Verisk
- Auto Data Direct
- Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange
- First American Financial Corporation
- Florida MVR Services Inc.
- Insurance Information Exchange
- Insurance Services Office
- National Insurance Crime Bureau
- TML Information Services
- CardService International Inc.
- First Data
- The Retail Equation
- A-PLUS Personal Lines Loss History Solutions by Verisk Analytics
- Collection Resources
- CoreLogic Credco
- Factual Data
- Inflection Risk Solutions
- LexisNexis Risk Solutions
- L2C Inc.
- National Consumer Telecom & Utilities Exchange