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Credit Rating Agency
The three major credit bureaus -- Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion -- collect information about the way you use credit and make it available to anyone with a legitimate business need to see it, including potential lenders, landlords, and current or prospective employers.
The bureaus keep records of the credit accounts you have, how much you owe, your payment habits, and the lenders and other businesses that have accessed your credit report.
Credit bureaus, also known as credit reporting agencies, store other information about you as well, such as your present and past addresses, Social Security number, employment history, and information in the public record, including bankruptcies, liens, and any judgments against you.
However, there are certain things, by law, your credit report can't include, including your age, race, religion, political affiliation, or health records.
You are entitled to a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus once a year, but you have to request them through the Annual Credit Report Request Service (www.annualcreditreport.com or 877-322-8228).
If you've recently been denied credit, are unemployed, on public assistance, or have a reason to suspect identity theft or credit fraud, you're also entitled to a free report. In those cases, you should contact the credit bureaus directly.