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The 3 Major Credit Reporting Agencies You Need to Know when Applying for Financing

AUTHOR: Sogol Sabbar

There are 3 major credit reporting agencies (CRA) that most lenders get consumer and business credit information from. When creditors and lenders check your credit, they'll very likely do so with one of the three major CRAs. These three agencies retain information on more than 200 million Americans.

According to a study done by Manta, 72% of small business owners don’t know what their credit score is, and many are not aware that they have a separate business credit score. Do you know what the three major CRAs are and how to obtain your credit score from them?

Here’s everything you need to know.

What the Credit Reporting Agencies Do

The major CRAs receive credit-related information from the companies and lenders with which you do business. Lenders report to them regularly as to whether you're paying your bills on time, if you've ever been 30 or more 60 days late, or if you've ever defaulted entirely. They report how much debt you owe to them.

The credit bureaus also pull relevant public records, like tax liens or bankruptcy information, from state and local courts. This information is included in your credit report as well.

CRAs sell consumer credit information to businesses that have a legally valid reason for reviewing it. For example, a company with whom you've applied for credit would have a valid need to look at your credit history. Your information can also be sold to companies that want to prescreen you for their products and services. Employers and landlords typically cannot access your credit report without your written permission.

The Big 3


This agency uses banking and leasing information from the Small Business Finance Exchange and the Equifax Small Business Enterprise database to generate three risk scores: Business Delinquency Score, Business Credit Risk Score, and Business Failure Risk Score.

Equifax offers credit fraud protection and identity theft protection to consumers, as well as selling credit reports to businesses. It offers both their FICO and VantageScore credit scores to consumers for a fee as well.


This agency collects their data from public and private sources including legal filings. Experian uses the FICO 8 credit score calculation system. It also offers a Credit Tracker by subscription. You'll get your credit score as well as your credit report if you subscribe.


TransUnion collects and aggregates information on over one billion individual consumers in over thirty countries. If you're worried that you're a victim of identity theft or that you might be, you can place a freeze on your TransUnion credit report and TransUnion will take the extra step of notifying the other two CRAs that you've done so.

Learn more about the credit agencies from the full article in The Balance

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