Credit Repair Organizations

A bad credit rating can have a negative impact on a person's life, often prompting him or her to improve the situation. The first step in doing so is to obtain a copy of one's personal credit report. Consumers who enjoy a good credit rating might also want to check their credit reports on a periodic basis to spot any errors or problems as soon as possible.

If either situation is of interest to you, you might want to know a little bit about the credit repair organizations you're likely to come across. There are three main credit reporting agencies in operation in the United States - Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. These companies analyze a consumer's credit history and assign a score which lenders and employers use to evaluate an applicant's credit worthiness.

Equifax, Inc., was founded in 1899 as the Retail Credit Company, headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. It sold consumer data that ranged from job, education, and marital history to details of a person's sexual, religious, and political activities.

When the agency became computerized in 1970, the US Congress passed the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) to limit what consumer information could be gathered, stored, and sold. The company name was changed to Equifax for public relations purposes.

Equifax maintains records on more than 400 million consumers around the world. Annual sales top $1.5 billion and more than 7,000 employees are at work in 14 countries.

Experian pic was founded in 1980 in Nottingham, England. A series of acquisitions and mergers since then have dramatically expanded its scope of operations but its Experian North America operations are limited to consumer credit reporting as defined in the FCRA.

Experian maintains consumer files on 215 million Americans and 450 million vehicles in the US. It employs 15,500 people working in 36 countries.

TransUnion, LLC, was founded in 1968 in Chicago, Illinois. The company's operations today include 250 US-based offices plus operations in 24 other countries.

Almost every consumer in the US faces credit scrutiny by these companies every time an application for a loan, extended services, and many jobs is submitted. Their presence is far reaching and comes with almost indisputable reliance on their reports. Nevertheless, they make mistakes and test the limits of the law. Each one has been sued repeatedly and successfully by the Federal Trade Commission for violations of the FCRA.

Consumers challenged by issues generated by these three credit reporting agencies can turn to the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, the American Association of Debt Management Organizations, or the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies for help. These nationwide networks of counseling services provide free assistance to consumers trying to improve their financial status and boost their credit ratings.

These nonprofit credit repair organizations employ counselors in every major US city who provide individual counseling to consumers wishing to know more about credit, housing, bankruptcy, and financial issues. Consumers can turn to these credit repair organizations even if they have no dispute on record with the three credit reporting agencies. Their main goal is to promote responsible financial behaviors for all their clients.