Definitions

commercial-credit

Credit bureau

A credit bureau (U.S.), or credit reference agency (UK) is a company that collects information from various sources and provides consumer credit information on individual consumers for a variety of uses. This helps lenders assess credit worthiness, the ability to pay back a loan, and can affect the interest rate and other terms of a loan. Interest rates are not the same for everyone, but instead can be based on risk-based pricing, a form of price discrimination based on the different expected risks of different borrowers, as set out in their credit rating. Consumers with poor credit repayment histories or court adjudicated debt obligations like tax liens or bankruptcies will pay a higher annual interest rate than consumers who don't have these factors.

In the U.S., credit bureaus collect and collate personal information, financial data, and alternative data on individuals from a variety of sources called data furnishers with which the bureaus have a relationship. Data furnishers are typically creditors, lenders, utilities, debt collection agencies and the courts (i.e. public records) that a consumer has had a relationship or experience with. Data furnishers report their payment experience with the consumer to the credit bureaus. The data provided by the furnishers as well as collected by the bureaus are then aggregated into the credit bureau's data repository or files. The resulting information is made available on request to customers of the credit bureau for the purposes of credit assessment, credit scoring or for other purposes such as employment consideration or leasing an apartment. Given the large number of consumer borrowers, these credit scores tend to be mechanistic. To simplify the analytical process for their customers, the different credit bureaus can apply a mathematical algorithm to provide a score the customer can use to more rapidly assess the likelihood that an individual will repay a given debt given the frequency that other individuals in similar situations have defaulted. Most consumer welfare advocates advise individuals to review their credit reports at least once per year, in order to ensure that the reports are accurate. Consumers can do so at no cost. They are entitled to a free annual credit report from each of the three nationwide consumer reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

Commercial credit reports and scoring also exist, which can be used to evaluate the likelihood of a business paying creditors. Examples of these are the Paydex score from Dun and Bradstreet and the Experian Intelliscore.

United States

In the United States, the legal term for a credit bureau under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is consumer reporting agency — often abbreviated in the industry as CRA.

In the United States, key credit bureau consumer protections and general rules or governing guidelines for both the credit bureaus and data furnishers are the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA), Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA), and Regulation B.

Two government bodies share responsibility for the oversight of credit bureaus and those that furnish data to them. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has oversight for the consumer credit bureaus. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) charters, regulates, and supervises all national banks with regard to the data they furnish credit bureaus.

Most US consumer credit information is collected and kept by the four national credit reporting agencies: Experian (which purchased the files and other assets of TRW), Equifax, TransUnion, and Innovis (which was purchased from First Data Corporation in 1999 by CBC Companies). These organizations are for-profit businesses and possess no government affiliation. Though they are competitors, they have formed a trade organization called the Consumer Data Industry Association (CDIA) to establish reporting standards and lobby on their behalf on consumer issues in Washington. Current reporting standards accepted by the four US CRAs are Metro and Metro2. The Metro2 standard is defined in the annual CDIA publication, the Credit Reporting Resource Guide.

There are dozens of other similar information collection and reporting firms that analyze and sell information about consumers for other purposes, including those who aggregate multiple credit data sources and provide lenders with customized analytical tools.

PRBC (Payment Reporting Builds Credit, Inc.) is a national alternative credit bureau. Incorporated in March 2002, PRBC enables consumers to self-enroll and build a positive credit file by reporting their on-time payments (such as rent, utilities, cable, and phone) that are not automatically reported to the three traditional credit bureaus.

In the US, there are three business or commercial bureau repositories: Dun & Bradstreet, Experian Business, and Equifax Small Business Financial Exchange (SBFE)

Tort liability for business defamation

In the case of Dun & Bradstreet, Inc. v. Greenmoss Builders, 472 U.S. 749 (1985) the U.S. Supreme Court held that a credit reporting agency may be liable if it was careless in reporting an impending or past bankruptcy filing of a business that is not a public figure.

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, the three credit reference agencies are Experian, Equifax and Callcredit, which was established in 2001 and is now working closely in association with its American counterpart, TransUnion.

Most banks and other credit-granting organisations subscribe to one or more of these organisations to ensure the quality of their lending. This includes companies who sell goods or services on credit such as credit card issuers, utility companies and store card issuers. Subscribing organisations are expected to provide relevant data to maintain the common data pool.

Credit reference agencies are bound by the Data Protection Act, which requires that data relating to identifiable individuals must be accurate, relevant, held for a proper purpose and not out-of-date. Individuals have a legal right to access data held on them.

The activities of Credit Reference Agencies are governed under UK law by the Consumer Credit Act 1974.

India

The establishment of Credit Information Bureau (India) Limited (CIBIL), India's first Credit Information Bureau, is an effort made by the Government of India and the Reserve Bank of India to improve the functionality and stability of the Indian financial system by containing NPAs while improving credit grantors' portfolio quality.

CIBIL was promoted by State Bank of India (SBI), Housing Development Finance Corporation (HDFC), Dun & Bradstreet Information Services India Private Limited (D&B) and TransUnion International Inc. (TransUnion) to provide comprehensive credit information by collecting, collating and disseminating credit information pertaining to both commercial and consumer borrowers, to a closed user group of Members.

CIBIL: Current Shareholding The promoters SBI and HDFC divested a part of their stake to other shareholders and the revised shareholding stands as follows:

Shareholder Holding% SBI 10.0% HDFC 10.0% Dun & Bradstreet 10.0% Trans Union 10.0% ICICI Bank 10.0% Bank of Baroda 5.0% Bank of India 5.0% HSBC 5.0% IOB 5.0% PNB 5.0% Union Bank 5.0% Citicorp Finance 5.0% Central Bank 5.0% Stan C k 5.0% Sundaram Finance 2.5% GE Strategic Investments India 2.5% Total 100.0%

See also

Major global bureaus

Lesser bureaus

National bureaus

External links

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