Why Did Three Credit Agencies Gain A Monopoly?

There are three credit agencies that have gained the greater amount of reporting business in the U.S. today. Many credit reporting agencies began in the late 19th century when industrialization led to mass production of machines that demanded higher ticket prices than most consumers could afford with a single payment. Therefore, the practice for “extending credit” began. Merchants soon banded together to exchange information about a consumer’s credit worthiness and as the practice for extending credit increased through the 20th century, reporting bureaus were created.

The Oldest

The oldest reporting bureau remaining today as one of the big three is Equifax. It began in 1899 as the Retail Credit Company. It provided clients with all types of information that included a consumer’s marital problems, convictions if any, political activity and even aspects about their sex life. In the better part of the 20th century only negative information was collected and reported to businesses paying for the information. Furthermore, consumers had no rights to look into a file. This all changed when the Fair Credit Reporting Act was passed in 1971.


One of the main reasons that there are only three big reporting bureaus is that throughout the early part of the 20th century many separate companies were scattered across the country and acted independently due to geography. As commerce and transportation of goods increased, more centrally located information collecting centers were needed. Many small companies consolidated into larger ones leading to the formation of larger organizations. The three that emerged on top are Equifax, Experian and Transunion.

Methods and Marketing

Natural free economy practices have led these three companies to become the sources throughout the country for both businesses contracting to find consumer credit information as well as consumers tracking credit information to keep tabs on faulty or incorrect information. All three have done exceptional jobs marketing their wares and have become the accepted authorities on credit information gathering and analysis. Although not all creditors report to these three agencies, or do all creditors obtain reports from them. However, it is important to ensure that your credit information is correct and the same information is available from all three “bureaus.” The word bureau is a misnomer. Bureau always seems to connote some kind of government involvement. Equifax, Experian and Transunion are not associated with the government. They are not in existence to help consumers. They are not consumer advocates.


Through clever marketing and consistent and constant use of the word “bureau,” the top three reporting agencies – Equifax, Experian and Transunion – have developed the perception that they are either run or sanctioned by the U.S. government. Many people believe that the three exchange information automatically. It is a misconception that if one changes incorrect at one agency, it changes on the others. This is not true. The three agencies are separate businesses conducting the same type of services for profit. To change information at all reporting agencies, a consumer has to file separate dispute claims with each.

When disputing incorrectly information, always keep original records and send copies only.

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