What Services Do Credit Bureaus Offer?

Credit bureau services include providing credit reports, helping consumers understand credit and credit issues and helping consumers to correct errors on their credit reports. Credit bureaus exist to compile information on individuals' credit histories and provide that information to the individuals and to other concerned parties, such as employers, lenders and landlords. There are three major credit bureaus in the United States - Equifax, Experian and TransUnion - all of which offer similar services to their customers. 

Credit Reports

The major service offered by all three credit bureaus are credit reports. A credit report details the credit history of a given individual. The bureaus gather information from credit card companies, banks and other lenders and compile that information into reports. The bureaus also use this information to come up with a credit score - the higher the number, the better your credit is. It may be important to know this information when applying for a loan, renting an apartment or house, buying a car or when trying to get a new job. Everyone is entitled by law to one free credit report per year. This can be obtained through a credit bureau. The credit bureaus also offer unlimited access to credit reports through paid subscriptions. Credit histories can also be accessed by potential lenders and landlords in order to see whether the person they are considering lending or renting to is trustworthy when it comes to paying on time and in full. 

Help with Disputes

Sometimes, errors occur on credit reports that may negatively affect your credit status. For example, you may never have missed a payment on your car loan, but your credit report may show that you have missed one or more. This can lower your credit score and make you less likely to be approved for future loans. It is possible to dispute these errors, provided that you can furnish proof that you are right. The three credit bureaus each offer help with filing disputes. 

Fraud Alerts and Security Advice

Identity theft is a widespread problem and can seriously damage your credit. To help combat the problem, Experian, Equifax and TransUnion offer fraud alert services. These services, which are offered for a fee, will notify you if suspicious activity is observed on your credit report. For example, if you have never golfed in your life and your credit card statements are free of any golf-related purchases, you may be alerted if a charge appears under your name for expensive golf clubs and other accessories. This will let you know that either your credit card or your identity may have been stolen, so you can take early steps to solve the problem and save your credit score. The credit bureaus also offer free tips on how to avoid identity theft and other credit-related security risks. You can also freeze your credit accounts to halt further spending via a credit bureau.

Other Services

The credit bureaus also offer credit advice for small business owners, offer answers to credit FAQs and offer consumer advice on credit issues and how to maintain or regain good credit. For more information and to access these services, visit the Web sites of Experian, TransUnion and Equifax.

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