A fourth credit bureau… Did you know that there are more than three credit reporting agencies in the United States?
Of course, we’ve all heard of Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Interestingly, there is a fourth credit bureau called Innovis that is both well-established and has a significant database of consumer information. Here is a brief overview of those three major players, what you should know about this fourth credit bureau, and a few additional steps to take if you were impacted by the Equifax breach in 2017.
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The Three Major and The Fourth Credit Bureau
A credit bureau is an agency that collects and maintains consumer credit information for resale to businesses on an official credit report. Most people are familiar with the big three credit bureaus—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Each is a publicly-traded for-profit company that is subject to some regulations by the government’s Fair Credit Reporting Act.
There is a common misconception among consumers that credit reports and scores from these three agencies are the same, which isn’t necessarily the case. In fact, there may be discrepancies among the reports, mistakes that could impact credit and even data breaches that endanger your personal information.
The Little-Known Fourth Credit Bureau
In addition to the three major credit bureaus, there is a fourth credit agency that many haven’t heard of called Innovis. This is a company founded in 1970 under the name “Associate Credit Bureaus (ACB)” and given its current name in 1997. You can do a credit check with Innovis and receive a copy of their credit report, but that isn’t their primary service. For the most part, Innovis deals directly with businesses to authenticate consumer data, sometimes for use in pre-approved credit and insurance offers. One thing that Innovis doesn’t provide that the other credit bureaus do is a credit score.
If you request your Innovis credit report, there’s a good chance you’ll find it less complete than the reports from the other major players. Some discover that Innovis reports have detailed information about mortgages but are light on revolving credit, employment, and payment history. Depending on your situation and credit needs, you may want to check this credit file, monitor it, and even request an alert with the company.
What Equifax Data Breach Victims Should Know
When news of one of the largest data breaches in U.S. history hit in September, a shock wave could be felt across the country. More than 145.5 million Americans were victims of Equifax’s breach, which they failed to disclose despite knowing about the issue for several months. Some credit experts recommend that those affected place an alert on their credit files with the three major bureaus. One expert, however, also recommends notifying Innovis.
Consumer group U.S. Pirg told the Chicago Tribune that requesting an alert with Innovis could also be a good idea. Because the agency deals primarily with creditors who send pre-approved offers, there is the danger of identity thieves raiding mailboxes for this information. In addition to alerting Innovis, you can also opt out of these offers for a five-year period or permanently.
Keeping track of your credit can be cumbersome and time-consuming. The good news is there is a reputable and affordable credit monitoring program that can take the guesswork out of protecting your financial data.