Experian is a credit reporting agency, or credit bureau, that gathers information about the creditworthiness of consumers. Together, your credit information forms a credit score, or Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO) score. This number, ranging from 300 to 800, measures how good a credit risk you are. The information that Experian and its major competitors, TransUnion and Equifax, gather helps banks make lending decisions.
Banks and Stores
Experian, TransUnion and Equifax are the three largest credit reporting agencies, and most major banks use them to come up with a combined FICO score. International financial organizations such as Barclays, HSBC, Morgan Stanley, MBNA and Nationwide are examples of those that rely on Experian. Also, major stores that issue credit cards use Experian to check consumers' credit worthiness.
Anytime a consumer uses a bank product or service that involves loan repayment, that information is collected into his or her credit report. Examples of these activities include student loans, revolving credit accounts, car loans, mortgages, credit card transactions and bankruptcy filings.
You can obtain your credit report once per year for free from each of the three credit reporting agencies, using the website AnnualCreditReport.com, which the credit bureaus maintain. You may want to order a report from one of the three credit agencies every four months to keep watch on your credit throughout the year. If you have been rejected for a loan, job or line of credit, you are also entitled to a free credit report. You can also order a copy of your FICO score, which usually requires a fee.
When considering job applications, many employers access consumer credit reports. This information is used to check the trustworthiness and reliability of potential employees. Also, mobile phone providers, insurance companies, landlords and government agencies use this information. Consumers have the right to see their credit reports and have them corrected.
Lisa Smith has been an editor and writer since 1991. Her articles have appeared in "Newton Magazine" and she has contributed to myriad popular books, including "Masters of Deception" and "Click: The Ultimate Photography Guide for Generation Now." She earned her B.A. in semiotics from Brown University and completed coursework for an M.A. in history at New Mexico State University.