What Do Creditors Have to Report to Credit Bureaus?

Creditors and lenders are not required by law to report to credit bureaus. However, many businesses choose to report on-time payments, late payments, purchases, loan terms, credit limits, and balances owed. Credit bureaus collect this data and create your credit report and credit score.

Businesses usually also report significant events such as account closures or charge-offs. For example, if a mortgage is paid off, this information is generally reported to a credit bureau. Learn more about what creditors have to report to credit bureaus and how what they report can affect your finances.

Key Takeways

  • Credit bureaus receive information from lenders and creditors, businesses, and government agencies.
  • The three largest credit bureaus are Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax.
  • Credit reports and credit scores are indicators of how a person handles their debt and credit. 
  • You can file a dispute against information you believe is incorrect on your credit report.

Governmental organizations that maintain public records don't report to the credit bureaus, but the bureaus usually obtain the documents on their own. For this reason, bankruptcy filings are typically included on credit reports, and can remain there for seven to 10 years.

Another example, if you owe the IRS money, chances are, a public record of a tax lien may land on your credit report, and that can impact your credit score.

Creditors and Credit Bureaus

Creditors and lenders such as banks and credit card companies must pay to report information to any of the three major credit-reporting bureaus, which are Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. Because cost is involved, some creditors and lenders may choose to use only one service instead of all three.

When creditors alert only one credit bureau, not all bureaus receive the same information about your payment history. Generally, credit card companies won't report a late payment if you are just a day or two late. Credit bureaus get their information from different sources. So, your credit score may differ depending on which bureau is reporting it.

When do creditors report to the credit agencies? Some creditors report to the bureaus on a monthly basis, although different businesses file on different days, which means that an your credit report is continually updated. Some lenders and creditors submit information on a quarterly basis.

Larger companies may provide multiple monthly reports on a rolling basis, with different days for different customers, Smaller companies may report only once per month with all of its customers included.

Negative Impact to Credit Reports

Negative information, such as late or missed payments or bankruptcies, can remain on your credit report for seven to 10 years, after which the credit bureaus automatically remove the data.

If you find inaccurate information on your credit report, you can file a dispute with the credit bureau or with the creditor who provided the incorrect data. You can get a free copy of your credit report at AnnualCreditReport.com.

Most claims about inaccurate information on a credit report must be investigated within 30 days. If the claim is substantiated, all credit bureaus must remove the negative report.

How Do I Contact All 3 Credit Bureaus?

You can contact a credit bureau to get a copy of your credit report or to report inaccuracies. Here is the phone number for each of the 3 main credit bureaus:

  • Equifax: 1-800-685-1111
  • Experian: 1-888-397-3742
  • TransUnion: 1-888-909-8872

Why Should I Get a Copy of My Report?

You should get a copy of your credit report for several reason. You will understand what factors are affecting your credit score so you can develop a strategy for improving your score. You can also monitor the report for errors. You are entitled to a free copy of your report from each of the main credit bureaus once per year.

How Can I Improve My Credit Score?

You can improve your FICO credit score in several ways, including by paying your bills on time, reducing the total amount of debt you owe and avoid opening new credit.

The Bottom Line

Credit bureaus track your credit information that they collect from creditors and lenders and provide that information to lenders who may be considering you for credit. Check your credit reports regularly to ensure the information that the credit bureaus receive is correct.

Article Sources
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  1. Experian. "Mortgage Company Not Required to Report Payments."

  2. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. "Consumer Protection Topics - Credit Reports."

  3. Experian. "What Happens When You Pay Off Your Mortgage?"

  4. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "Removal of public records has little effect on consumers’ credit scores."

  5. United States Bankruptcy Court. "Bankruptcy & Your Credit Report."

  6. The Federal Reserve. "Credit Reports and Credit Scores."

  7. Equifax. "How Often Do Credit Card Companies Report to Credit Bureaus?"

  8. USA.gov. "Credit Reports and Scores."

  9. Federal Trade Commission. "Disputing Errors on Credit Reports."

  10. Federal Trade Commission. "Free Credit Reports."

  11. myFICO. "How Are FICO Scores Calculated?"

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