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October 2002

Q: How is my credit history report generated? What is in this report, and who has access to the information it contains?

A: Consumer Reporting Agencies (CRAs) collect and release information on nearly everyone. If you have ever applied for credit, insurance, or a job, a file exists with your credit profile and possibly your medical profile as well. The most common type of CRA is the credit bureau.

Insurance companies, creditors, employers, and other businesses purchase information about you from CRAs. Therefore, it is important to monitor these reports for inaccuracies and evidence of identity theft. By law, CRAs must provide you with a full copy of your report if you request it. This usually includes the sources of the information, as well as everyone who has requested a copy of your report within the past year. The reports may be free of charge or require a nominal fee.

To locate consumer reports in your name, begin by contacting the three major credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion:

  • Equifax - 800-685-1111 or www.equifax.com
  • Experian - 888-EXPERIAN (888-397-3742) or www.experian.com
  • Trans Union - 800-916-8800 or www.transunion.com

You should also check with the companies listed under "credit reporting agencies" in the yellow pages. If you find problems with your report, see this month's Resource Link for steps to correct errors or review the September issue of the IRA.com Newsletter for ways to deal with identity theft.

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