Where Does The Information on My Credit Report Come From?

Have you ever wondered where the credit information on your credit reports comes from?  Well, wonder no longer.  Credit report data is supplied by the very companies that lend you money or offer you credit, such as credit card issuers.

The list of companies includes banks, mortgage lenders, collection agencies, finance companies, credit unions, auto lenders, gas/oil companies, credit card issuers, retailers, and travel and entertainment companies such as American Express.  The types of credit accounts are bankcards, retail cards, mortgages, second mortgages, home equity loans, home equity lines of credit, auto loans, auto leases, travel and entertainment cards, gas cards, and student loans.  And, of course, the dreaded 3rd party collection is on the list as well.

Credit grantors send their accounts receivable data each month to the three major Credit Reporting Agencies (CRAs) – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.  This information contains your current payment history, the loan amount, payment information, current payment information, and type of loan. If it is a credit card the credit limit, high credit and balance are provided.  This is the same information that is used to create your monthly billing statement from the credit grantor; they do not create separate information to send to the CRAs.

The accounts receivable information for each account is usually updated monthly at the CRAs.  The date each CRA receives and updates this data on the credit report can be different. Credit grantors send their accounts receivable data at different times during the month to them.  Some take 30 days to complete their billing cycle and send the data several times during the month.  Each CRA updates this information on a different schedule also.  This explains why one CRA will have a more current update on your account than another.  It’s also why your credit reports are never the same across the three credit bureaus.

Depending upon the time of the month you review your credit report, you may notice that the accounts are not updated at the same time.  For example, your credit report at one of the CRAs shows a retail card updated in February 2011 and a mortgage updated in January 2011. These same accounts at another CRA could be both updated on February 2011.

There is very little difference between the data collected by three CRAs.  They basically collect the same information, but one may have a local credit union or bank contributing that another credit bureau doesn’t get data from.  In January 2011, Experian announced the addition of positive apartment rental data to their credit file and will report negative rental data in 2012.  This data is unique to them because of the purchase of a company, RentBureau that compiles rental information.  You can read more about the rental data here.

John Ulzheimer is the President of Consumer Education at SmartCredit.com, the credit blogger for Mint.com, and a Contributor for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.  He is an expert on credit reporting, credit scoring and identity theft. Formerly of FICO, Equifax and Credit.com, John is the only recognized credit expert who actually comes from the credit industry.