A credit bureau, also known as a credit reporting agency (CRA), is a company that collects and maintains credit information on you and millions of other consumers. When you apply for a line of credit or a loan, your prospective lender will want to know about your credit history, including whether you have borrowed money in the past and if you made payments on time
Credit bureaus provide this information to lenders and they provide you with your credit report. There are three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. These for-profit companies are the main sources for lenders to obtain information on your credit history and for you to receive your credit report.
Historically Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion were legally required to provide all consumers with three free credit reports per year, upon request. Due to the financial instability caused by Covid-19, all three of these credit bureaus are currently offering consumers free weekly online credit reports through the end of 2023.
Remember, in order to learn your official credit score you will need to request a credit report from one of these credit bureaus. If you want to, you can get all 3 credit scores (one from each bureau) to compare the numbers.
Here is the online process to request your credit report:
- Go to the official website of the Annual Credit Report Request Service to fill out the form to request credit reports.
- Pick whether you want to request a credit report from Equifax, Experian, TransUnion or all three credit bureaus.
- As a final step, you will need to answer a few verification questions. These will be personal identification questions that only you should know the answer to.