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What is a credit reporting company?

Credit reporting companies, also known as credit bureaus or consumer reporting agencies, are companies that compile and sell credit reports.

Credit reporting companies collect credit account information about your borrowing and repayment history including:

  • The original amount of a loan
  • The credit limit on a credit card
  • The balance on a credit card or other loan
  • The payment status of the account including whether you have repaid your loans on time
  • Items sent for collection
  • Public records, such as judgments and bankruptcies

Credit reporting companies can gather information from many sources including thousands of lenders across the country; public records, such as bankruptcies, garnishments, liens, and other judgments; and collections agencies, which provide information on delinquent accounts

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is a federal law that provides directions and limits on how credit reporting companies disclose credit report information. FCRA also has provisions regulating users of consumer reports and furnishers of information to credit reporting companies. For example, the FCRA permits credit reporting companies to provide credit reports only to those users who have a permissible purpose listed in the law.

Other reporting companies, including specialty consumer reporting companies, may collect personal information in addition to credit information including, but not limited to, your employment and tenant history as well as publically available data.

Go to our browsable list of consumer reporting companies and read about your rights under the FCRA.