Federal Credit Bureau: How Does It Protect Your Credit Record?

By: Ann Richter

Many people mistakenly believe that the four major credit bureaus are under the jurisdiction of the federal government. There is no federal credit bureau. The corporations who keep track of the credit files of America's consumers are for-profit companies owned not by the government, but by the stockholders of the company. Companies like this get no funding or help from the government in any way. However, Federal law does govern the actions of the four nationwide consumer credit reporting companies.

Who Are the Credit Reporting Companies?

The three main players are Trans Union, Equifax, and Experian. The fourth bureau is called Innovis, but it lags behind the others in usage, being a fairly new organization. Every local credit bureau in the United States is affiliated with one of these three large companies. It is important for the consumer to understand that it is quite important to request a copy of your credit file from each of the three major bureaus. Why is this? A little known fact is that these national bureaus could each have different information on you in their files. Since the credit reporting business is a competitive one, they do not share information between them on a usual basis.

The Federal law that regulates all credit bureaus in the United States is called the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The main gist of the law is accuracy in recording and record keeping, and the privacy and protection of consumers and their personal credit information. It is the law that you have to be informed if any of the information in your file has been used against you, such as when you are turned down for a job because of poor credit. Usually, this information comes to you in the form of a letter in the mail. If you just want to know what information is in your credit file, all you have to do is ask, and you can get a free report once a year from each major credit bureau.

Once you find out that there is no federal credit bureau, and contact one of the three main credit reporting agencies for a free copy of your file, examine your credit report closely. If you see any inaccuracies at all, it is up to you to contact the agency to have the discrepancy remedied. They have to, by law, investigate the false information by checking out all the evidence surrounding it. They then must get in touch with the information source that provided them with the erroneous information. This source must also review the information, then report back to the credit reporting agency.

The CRA will then send to you via mail a written investigative report, detailing everything that was done to check out this error in your file. You will get another, corrected copy of your file once the error has been corrected. Also, anyone, be it a potential employer or that local department store where you are trying to get a credit card so you can buy a kitty condo for you cats, will be informed by mail that there has been a change to your credit file, with detrimental information removed.

annrichter(at)creditreportguideonline.com

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