Credit Bureau vs. Credit Reporting Agency Episode #77
Is there a difference between credit bureaus and credit reporting agencies ?
Short answer: No
While most government references to these companies are as CRAs or Credit Reporting Agencies, most consumers may know the term Credit Bureau better. A credit bureau or credit reporting agency gathers information about how consumers use credit they collect information from as many consumer financial transactions or inquiries as possible.
So, who are the credit reporting agencies?
- The big three are Trans Union, Equifax and Experian they manage nearly 200 million credit files.
Are those three the only ones?
- There are many others, for instance, Innovis and some small regional credit bureaus still in existence.
- TRW is now Experian
- “Agency” or “Bureau” doesn’t mean non-profit or government entity. Trans Union, Equifax and Experian are for-profit companies.
- The big 3 companies share data, but they also maintain separate reports and separate scoring models.
Timeline of History
- 1899: Equifax was founded as Retail Credit Company
- 1975: Retail Credit Company changes its name to improve its image to Equifax
- 1968: Trans Union was founded as Union Tank Car
- 1969: Union Tank Car enters the credit business
- 2002: Trans Union buys Truelink and enters the consumer report and credit score business now known as TrueCredit
- 1901: The origin of the TRW company was in the Cleveland Cap Screw Company, which eventually became Thompson Products.
- 1958: merger of Thompson with the Ramo-Wooldridge Corporation (named after Simon Ramo and Dean Wooldridge) was named Thompson Ramo Wooldridge Inc.,
- 1965: Thompson Ramo Wooldridge Inc. shortened to TRW Inc.
- 1996: TRW spins off credit business as TRW Information Services and Experian buys them.
- 2002: Experian buys ConsumerInfo.com and enters the consumer report and credit score business