credit bureau

Organization that provides information to merchants or other businesses concerning the creditworthiness of their customers. Credit bureaus may be private enterprises or may be operated on a cooperative basis by the merchants in one locality. Users of the service pay a fee and receive information from various sources, including businesses that have granted the customer credit in the past, public records, newspapers, the customer's employment record, and direct investigation.

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(1865–72) U.S. agency established during Reconstruction to help freed slaves in their transition to freedom. Officially named the U.S. Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, it was directed by Oliver O. Howard. It built hospitals and provided medical assistance to more than 1 million freed blacks and 21 million rations for blacks and whites. It also built more than 1,000 schools for black children and helped found colleges and teacher-training institutes for blacks, but it had little success in safeguarding civil rights and promoting land redistribution. Congress later responded to pressure from white Southerners by terminating the bureau.

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Largest investigative agency of the U.S. government. It was founded in 1908 as the Bureau of Investigation within the U.S. Justice Department. J. Edgar Hoover served as its director from 1924 until his death in 1972. Since 1968 the director, who reports to the attorney general, has been appointed by the president for a 10-year term, subject to Senate approval. The FBI employs more than 10,000 special agents. Its responsibilities include investigating violations of federal criminal law (including in the areas of civil rights and organized crime), collecting evidence in civil cases to which the U.S. is a party, and providing internal security.

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People with the surname Bureau include:

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