The three major credit reporting agencies are Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Two of them are publicly traded companies and one is privately held. Companies with which consumers have established credit regularly report payment history to these agencies.
Major Credit Rating Agencies
-- Experian (www.experian.com): Employs more than 15,000 employees and has corporate headquarters in Dublin, Ireland. The company is publicly traded on the London Stock Exchange under the symbol EXPN, and therefore its owners are the holders of the stock.
-- Equifax (www.equifax.com): Employs more than 7,000 employees and has its headquarters is in Atlanta, Georgia. The publicly held company is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol EFX. Its owners are the many holders of the stock.
-- Transunion (www.transunion.com): This privately held company employs more than 2,600 employees and is headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. The company is owned by the Marmon Group, which is controlled by the Jay Pritzker family.
About Credit Ratings
Consumers are assigned FICO scores ranging from 300 to 850. FICO is a publicly traded company that has developed the model for credit rating. A FICO score under 620 is considered high risk. Consumer who are considered high risk are often denied credit or charged higher finance fees.
Obtaining Free Credit Reports
Through the Fair Credit Reporting Act consumers may obtain a free copy of their credit report annually from each of the major reporting agencies. They can call (877) 322-8228 toll free or visit www.annualcreditreport.com to order reports. If bad credit information is filed on a consumer's report, it can be removed over time. It takes about seven years for bad credit reports to be deleted.