The 3 Credit Bureaus: Their Reports And Credit Scores

Camino Financial22 Feb 2024
The 3 Credit Bureaus: Their Reports And Credit Scores
Credit bureaus are responsible for managing the credit history of individuals and companies. This score is an important part of managing your finances, as it will allow you to access financial products in the United States. Below, we explain what it is, what their credit reports cover, how they work, and why a good score is the key factor in obtaining financing.
Table of Contents
1. What is a credit bureau and how does it work?
2. Types of credit bureaus
3. Three main credit bureaus in the USA
4. How do credit agencies obtain information?
5. How is credit calculated in the USA?
6. How to check my credit history for free
7. What should I do if I see errors in my credit report?
8. How to improve your credit score
9. Keep your credit history up to date
10. FAQs

What is a credit bureau and how does it work?

A credit bureau is a company that collects and stores financial information about individuals and companies. This information is used to calculate a credit score and generate a credit report.

Your credit history includes:

  • All loans you have applied for
  • Your timely or late payments
  • If you have been bankrupt
  • If you have had foreclosures

Entities that request your credit history include:

  • Banks
  • Mortgage lenders
  • Credit card companies
  • Other financial entities

These entities use your credit history to:

In summary, credit bureaus help lenders make informed decisions about who to grant credit to.

#DidYouKnow Your credit report information is also used to decide loan interest rates, evaluate leasing applications, and determine insurance rates.

Types of credit bureaus

There are two main types of credit bureaus:

Personal credit bureaus:

  • They collect the credit history of individuals.
  • Include information about loans, credit cards, mortgages, and other financial products.
  • Used to calculate the personal credit score, which is an indicator of the person's ability to pay their debts.

Commercial credit bureaus:

  • They collect the credit history of businesses.
  • Include information about commercial loans, lines of credit, and other financial products.
  • Used to calculate the commercial credit score, which is an indicator of the business's ability to pay its debts.
First-Time Business Loans

Three main credit bureaus in the USA

  • Equifax
  • TransUnion
  • Experian


Originally called “Retail Credit Company, it was founded in 1899 in Atlanta by brothers Cator and Guy Woolford. They kept a list of solvent clients and collected everything they found about them to later sell the information. The company began to expand rapidly, and by the 1920s it had offices throughout the United States. In 1975, they changed their name to Equifax.
  • Phone: 888 548 7878
  • Website: Equifax


Originally dedicated to leasing railroad cars. It was founded in 1968. A year later, it acquired a credit bureau with over 3.6 million cards with financial information. Currently, it has more than 250 offices in 24 countries.


Founded in England in 1980 under the name “CCN Systems”. It entered the U.S. market in 1996 when it bought “TRW Information Services”. Now it is present in 36 countries. First-Time Business Loans

Other credit bureaus

In addition to Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax, there are other credit reporting agencies. These are some of the offices that also collect information about consumers and offer credit reports:


Its acronym stands for Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange. This company collects information related to insurance to create reports on movable property. It is common for insurance companies to use the information from this bureau to set insurance premiums. Clue is affiliated with LexisNexis Risk Solutions. The report they offer is called “Consumer Disclosure Report”.


ChexSystems reports information about checking and savings accounts.

National Consumer Telecom & Utilities Exchange

Also known as NCTUE, this agency collects information for companies related to the areas of telecommunications, cable TV, and utility services.

How do credit agencies obtain information?

Financial companies, banks, and lenders

The credit bureau collects information such as:
  • Date of loan application, lender, payment history, amount of credit you have available, and the amount you are using.
  • Not all lenders report this, it is advisable to go to institutions that do report so you can build a credit history or improve it and increase your credit score.

Public records

Many data are obtained from public records. For example, if there is a history of judgments against you, you have declared bankruptcy, if you have been subject to a foreclosure or wage garnishment. Other information sources include utility payments and certain memberships. In some cases, credit bureaus may purchase information from other lending agencies. Additionally, they also keep your personal information to verify your identity. The data they gather are:
  • Name
  • Social Security Number
  • Date of birth
  • Current and previous address
  • Current and previous employers
  • Salary information

How is credit calculated in the USA?

A specialized credit bureau is not obligated to disclose the formulas it uses to calculate the business credit score. Indeed, the three main commercial credit bureaus do not consider the same information for creating it and evaluate the data based on very different parameters. However, these are the main factors a credit bureau might take into account:

Payment history

Make sure to pay your debts on time. By doing so, lenders will know you have a reliable business and will be more willing to lend you money under more favorable conditions.

Credit use

Do not use 100 percent of your credit card borrowing limit. This gives the impression that you are not able to pay your debts. Try to keep the credit utilization ratio of these cards at least at 30%.

Years in the market

A company with an established credit history, that pays its obligations on time and maintains low credit utilization ratios, has better chances of receiving loans with better rates than a new business with no history.

Number of credit applications

Applying for a large number of loans can make lenders think that your business is overextending without control. This implies fewer chances of being lent money or getting more favorable arrangements.

How to check my credit history for free

Choose how to request your report

  • Online: Visit (in English). This is the only website authorized by the federal government to provide free annual credit reports.
  • By phone: Call 1-877-322-8228. You can request your reports in Spanish or English.
  • By mail: Download and print the annual credit report request form

Create an account on

If it's your first time requesting your report online, you will need to create an account.

You will be asked for personal information such as your name, address, Social Security number, and date of birth.

Answer security questions

To verify your identity, you will be asked some security questions.

These questions may be about your credit history, such as the amount of your mortgage or the name of your bank.

Review your credit report

Your credit report will show your payment history, the amount of debt you have, and your credit score.

It's important to carefully review your report to spot any errors.

Obtain your reports from the other two agencies

You can only get one free report from each agency once a year.

If you want to obtain your reports from all three agencies immediately, you can:

  • Request a report from each agency at different times of the year.
  • Purchase a report from one of the agencies.

Differences in the score across the three credit bureaus

When you request your reports, you may find differences because lenders are not obligated to report information to credit bureaus. Therefore, the agencies may have different information about you, which alters your credit score. Additionally, different mathematical models are used to calculate your score. Lenders also base their decisions on scoring models like “Vantagescore”, developed by the three main credit agencies, or the FICO model. In the United States, there are various credit agencies, of which Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion are some of the most important: There are some differences between Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion:
  • Equifax uses FICO Score 8, while Experian and TransUnion use VantageScore 3.0.
  • Equifax has a longer notification time for credit history than Experian and TransUnion.
  • Equifax has more complete data on some elements (like bankruptcies) than Experian and TransUnion.
  • Experian and TransUnion use a soft inquiry process for some purposes (like credit card pre-selection), while Equifax does not.
These differences can affect your credit score and the information that lenders see when they pull your credit report.

What should I do if I see errors in my credit report?

It's important to monitor all three credit reports regularly, so you can detect any errors.

Recognize the error:

Regularly reviewing your credit report is important. Errors can affect your score and ability to obtain loans.

Initiate the dispute process:

  • Identify the agency: Is the error with Experian, TransUnion, or Equifax?
  • Dispute options: You can do it online, by phone, or by mail.

Gather evidence:

Look for bank statements, letters, or other records that prove the error.

Submit a formal dispute:

  • Written letter: Consider a letter for disputing in writing, as it's the most effective method.
  • Clarity and specificity: Clearly explain the error and the correction desired.

Contact the information provider (optional):

If you believe the error comes from a lender or company, also communicate with them.

Investigation and response:

Agencies have 30 days to investigate. They will contact you with the results.

Review and follow up:

  • Verify: Recheck the updated report to confirm the correction.
  • Dissatisfaction: If you're not satisfied, you can escalate the case to consumer protection agencies or seek legal assistance.

Who regulates the credit bureaus?

In the United States, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), enacted in 1970, governs the operations of credit agencies. This law:

  • Oversees the proper use of the information collected by credit agencies.
  • Ensures the accuracy of credit reports.
  • Allows you to request an investigation and correction of errors in your report.
  • Gives you the right to a free annual credit report from each of the three main agencies (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion). You can request it on platforms like Credit Karma.

Consumer protections:

  • The FCRA requires credit agencies to maintain accurate and complete information in your reports.
  • Allows you to correct inaccuracies in your credit history.
  • You have the right to obtain a free credit report every 12 months from each of the three main agencies.
  • You can request your credit score for a fee.
  • You can dispute any inaccurate or incomplete information in your report.
  • The credit agency must investigate the dispute and remove any erroneous information.

How to improve your credit score

Pay your bills on time, always

Late payments are a big red flag for lenders.

Even a single delay can significantly affect your score. Set up automatic payments or reminders to ensure you pay all bills on time, including credit cards, utilities, and loans.

Keep credit card balances low

Try to maintain utilization below 30% of your limit. High balances raise concerns about potential overspending and hurt your score.

Prioritize paying off existing balances and avoid using the full limit of your cards in the future.

Diversify your credit mix

Having a mix of credit types, such as revolving credit cards and installment loans, shows you manage credit responsibly.

Consider opening a secured credit card if you have a limited credit history.

Limit new credit inquiries

Each inquiry generates a hard pull, which can temporarily lower your score.

Apply for new credit only when necessary and space out applications to minimize the impact.

Additional tip: Regularly review your credit reports for errors and dispute them if necessary. Correcting inaccuracies can have a positive impact on your score.

Keep your credit history up to date

Your credit score is a requirement for loans. Make sure to meet all your financial obligations and avoid committing faults that may affect your credit score. Learning how to check your credit helps you improve it. How to review your credit report with Credit Karma

Frequently Asked Questions

How were credit scores created?

In the past, loans were approved based on imprecise information, such as the character and personality of the applicant. Over time, lenders developed a scoring system. However, this system was flawed, as it depended on the human factor and was not free of biases. In the 1950s, engineer Bill Fair and mathematician Earl Isaac created and refined a scoring system that is known today as FICO.

What is a good FICO score?

Are you ready to get your credit score but not sure how to read it? This will help: 750 to 850 = Excellent 700 to 749 = Good 650 to 699 = Fair 550 to 649 = Poor 300 to 549 = Bad

How do I remove negative accounts from my credit report?

While you can't completely remove negative accounts from your credit report, you can dispute them. If you find an inaccurate account on your credit report, you can challenge it with the credit agency. By disputing the account, you can get the agency to conduct an investigation and determine whether it is accurate or not. If the agency finds that the account is inaccurate, it will remove it from your credit report. To dispute an account, you will need to gather certain documentation and send it to the agency. This documentation may include proof that you never opened the account or proof that you paid the debt. The agency will review your documentation and decide whether to remove the account from your credit report.

How to report to credit agencies?

As a consumer, you can only report certain types of payments to the agencies. Rent (Your landlord must report the rent through services like Experian RentBureau). Payments for cell phones, utilities, and streaming services (you can report these yourself, although you might have to subscribe to an extra service from a credit agency)

Prequalify in
5 minutes

Select your desired loan type.

Latest Articles

Prequalify in 5 minutes

  • Stay connected

    Join a community of over 40,000 micro-entrepreneurs for access to informative resources, helpful tips, and best practices on growing your business

  • Mission-driven company

    Camino Financial is a nationally certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) with oversight by the U.S. Department of Treasury. By partnering with other mission-aligned organizations, Camino Financial is able to pool and distribute low-cost funding and educational resources to underbanked minority-owned businesses. Camino Financial is headquartered in Los Angeles, California with supporting offices in Mexico City, Mexico.

© 2024 by Camino Financial, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Camino Financial is a Licensed Finance Lender & Broker in California under its subsidiary Salas & Company LLC.
Camino Financial Better Business Bureau A+ accredited businessCloudflare

11501 Sunset Hills Rd, Reston, VA 20190 || Tel (800) 852-0655

NMLS License: Salas & Company LLC #2186459 | CFL License: Salas & Company LLC (DBA Camino Financial) #60DBO-43053

CDFI Certification Number: 181CE054231