They Know Your There: Behind The Scenes Of Credit Bureaus

By: Jay Delgado

If you have a pulse and bills, you are being tracked by three agencies in the United States. They know where you live, where you used to live, who you are married to and even how much your car payment is. They probably know more about you than you do, at least when it comes to your financial habits. These three agencies are none other than Experian, Equifax and TransUnion, the three major credit reporting agencies in the U.S.

The contact information for each follows:

* Experian: P.O. Box 2104, Allen, Texas 75013-2104

* Equifax: P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374

* TransUnion: Consumer Disclosure Center, 2 Baldwin Place, P.O. Box 1000, Chester, PA 19022

These three agencies track over 200 million Americans and store their information in huge databases. They are responsible for producing more than half a billion credit reports each year. Millions of lenders and companies report to them each month and tell them if you paid your bill on time or if it was late, and they do this for the other 200 Million as well. This is a lot of information to store, and for the most part, credit agencies do an excellent job at keeping things straight. But they do make mistakes, after all credit agencies are managed and ran by humans.

Human error is the number one cause of mistakes on credit reports. Names, social security numbers and addresses can be easily entered incorrectly. People with similar names may be confused. If you are a woman and have been married or divorced, your name change and change in status may cause some confusion as well.

Mistakes can also be made when you dispute a negative file on your report. If you ever had to dispute an entry on your report, you would likely sit down and write a worded letter explaining all of the reasons why the item in question should not be on your credit report. Your lovely letter is then sent overseas so that data entry personnel can enter your complaint into the system. But rather than enter your actual words into the system, they condense it down to a two-digit code that means something: not mine, did not authorize and so forth. This two digit code is then sent to the creditor so that the creditor can review your complaint and verify their remark. If they cannot, it will be removed from your report.

As you can imagine, this two-digit system leaves a lot of room for errors and does not really give you a voice. Added to this is the fact that data entry personnel get paid for every entry that they put into the database no matter if it is correct or incorrect. Rewarding workers for quantity not quality has also added to the problem.

It is estimated that nearly three quarters of all credit reports contain errors. Most of these errors are not really a big deal, but some of them can cost you your credit standing.

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