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01 Sep 2002

Credit Bureaus in Today’s Credit Markets

Amparo San José Riestra

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ECRI Research Report No. 4, 40 pages

In all EU countries today, lenders can access information in databases to help them assess the creditworthiness of a credit applicant. The establishments that compile these databases are known as credit bureaus, credit registries or credit reporting agencies. Credit bureaus gather information on the payment history of borrowers and issue credit reports prior to the underwriting of a loan, whether for the purpose of buying a house, a car, opening a credit line or simply subscribing to a mobile telephone service.

In the United States, data from credit bureaus on consumer borrowing, payment behaviour and other aspects of household finances have become the cornerstone of underwriting decisions on consumer loans. Credit bureaus in the United States collect and store comprehensive data for over 200 million adult residents. More than 2 million credit reports are sold by credit bureaus every day.