6 Small Credit Reporting Agencies Consumers Should Know About
Most consumers know about the three major nationwide credit bureaus—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. While most lenders use one or all three of these bureaus to pull your credit history and credit scores, these aren’t the only credit reporting agencies. There are several small agencies that also collect and sell different types of consumer information to businesses who need to make a decision about you. These smaller credit reporting agencies are also subject to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which means you have the right to an accurate credit report, and you’re allowed to dispute any inaccurate information with the credit reporting agency to have it corrected or removed.
The law that grants a free credit report each year applies to these small credit agencies too. The only difference is that you have to contact the agency directly to request a free copy of your credit information. You’re also entitled to a free copy of any credit report that was used to take adverse action against you—such as a denied application. Become familiar with these small credit agencies so you know when your data might be used in a credit decision.
Unless you have an overdraft that goes to a collection agency, banking information isn't included in any of your traditional credit reports. ChexSystems is the credit bureau for checking accounts. When you apply for a checking account, the bank will likely review your account with ChexSystems to determine whether you're a risk for having an account. ChexSystems collects and reports data on checking account applications, openings, closings, and the reason for the bank account being closed. Negative information in your ChexSystems report can make it more difficult to open up a new checking account. You should review your ChexSystems credit report at least once a year to be sure there's no inaccurate information that could prevent you from switching banks or opening a new account.
Certegy Check Services
Certegy Check Services maintains a database of check-writing history to help businesses decide whether to accept checks from consumers. They also provide check screening services for retail businesses who accept checks. Businesses use Certegy to reduce the risk of check fraud and may decline to accept a check from you if you have negative information in your report. Your checking report with Certegy only contains a record of the checks you’ve written to businesses who use their services. Even if you're not a heavy check writer, checking your report from Certegy Check Services can help you detect when someone else may have written bad checks in your name.
Innovis is often referred to as the fourth credit bureau because it collects similar information to the big three credit bureaus. Innovis provides ID verification data to help with fraud detection and prevention, and many businesses use them for pre-screening potential customers. They also collect many pieces of non-traditional credit information like rent payments, magazine subscriptions, and utility bills. You can order your annual credit report from Innovis by mail, phone, online, or in person.
Clarity Services, which is owned by Experian, collects and provides information on many of the credit transactions that aren’t included in traditional credit reports from the major credit bureaus. They focus on businesses in subprime lending—including payday loans, installment loans, auto title loans, check cashing services, and rent-to-own businesses. Experian uses data collected by Clarity Services to generate its Clear Early Risk Score to help lenders evaluate non-prime consumers who are considering alternative financing. Clarity Services provides a printable form that you can mail or fax along with a copy of your government-issued ID to request a copy of your credit report.
Teletrack also reports on many different types of subprime lending products, including payday loans, rent-to-own business, furniture stores, auto finance, subprime credit card issuers, and debt buyers. These types of businesses may not report to the three major credit bureaus so your accounts won’t show up on your major credit reports. Instead, these businesses pull your Teletrack credit report to determine whether to give you a loan or not. You can request a copy of your Teletrack credit report by printing and mailing a copy of the request form.
Credco provides merged credit files to major lenders like mortgage and auto loan lenders. The merged credit file includes your information from all three credit bureaus in a single file. Credco also collects personal data like property ownership, loan obligations, legal property filings, rental applications, collection accounts, consumer bankruptcy, liens, judgments, and child support obligations. You can request a copy of your Credco credit report by printing and mailing a copy of the request form.