If you've ever applied for a loan or credit card, chances are your lender acquired and examined a copy of your credit report before deciding whether or not to grant you credit.
Your "Credit Report" is a record of your credit history and it's prepared by agencies called "Credit Bureaus", or "Consumer Reporting Agencies." These are private organizations and have no affiliation with the United States (or any) government. There are 3 major credit bureaus in the United States (2 in Canada) and their names are Experian, EquiFax, and Trans Union.
Did you know that credit reporting is a multi-billion dollar a year industry? It's true! The credit bureaus are for-profit organizations that generate billions of dollars in revenue each year from selling copies of credit reports to creditors and mailing lists.
Your report affects more than your financial life. It could affect your education, career, and even your relationships. Your report is used not only by lenders and creditors, but also by auto, life, and home insurers, future employers, and even some educational institutions. It affects the interest rates you'll pay on everything!
So as you can see, your credit report can have a critical impact on many facets of your life. For example, because of a bad credit report you could be forced to pay tens of thousands of dollars MORE in loan interest over the life of your home mortgage. This is no exaggeration!
Since the credit bureaus prepare and distribute your report to lenders, they clearly wield a great deal of power over both your financial and personal life. But it would be a grave mistake to be intimidated by them, or to think that you have no choice but to live with the negative effects of a bad report.
In fact, there's plenty you can do!
Always remember; Knowledge is power! There're a few facts the credit bureaus would rather you don't know. Let's take a look at them, and you'll see why.
1. Credit reports are filled with errors!
It will probably astonish you to learn the percentage of reports that contain errors. While there seems to be some disagreement, estimates range from 1 out of every 3 (on the low end) to as high as 90%! Here's a "run down" on error estimates.