These national credit agencies are for-profit companies owned by their shareholders. They are not government entities or funded by the government. There are also independent, non-national, local credit bureaus throughout the country that are generally affiliated with one of the 3 national credit reporting agencies. Local bureaus are sometimes for-profit companies and sometimes non-profit associations of lender/members in a particular geographical area.
The 3 national credit reporting agencies are competitors of each other, and they do not normally share their credit information except in special cases. That is why it is important to order a credit report from all three.
Credit agencies or bureaus gather their consumer credit information by soliciting creditors such as credit card companies, banks, and lenders to join their systems and contribute their credit experience
on consumers to the systems. In return for submitting information to the systems, creditor members may use the system to obtain credit information on consumers to approve credit decisions or review existing consumer accounts.
Credit agencies are generally regulated by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), which is the Federal law generally covering consumer reporting agencies including credit reporting in this country. Individual states may also have their own versions of the law.
Under Federal law credit reporting companies known as CRAs (consumer reporting agencies) have numerous responsibilities to protect consumers and their credit information. A Summary of the FCRA is at http://www.creditreporting.com/fair-credit-reporting-act/index.html.
Opt Out Number For List Sales by the National Credit Reporting Agencies
IN COMPLIANCE WITH THE FAIR CREDIT REPORTING ACT OF 1996.