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Credit bureaus collect information about consumers’ financial behavior so potential creditors, employers and landlords can make informed decisions about whether to extend lines of credit, rent apartments, or make employment offers.

The three major credit bureaus – Experian, Equifax and TransUnion – record personal information such as address history, birthdate and Social Security number, as well as account history (when accounts were opened, if they were closed by the consumer or by the credit issuing agent), payment history and other financial details. They do not have access to employment or income information.

Credit scores are assigned using on the information that credit bureaus collect. FICO scores are based on the following elements:

  • Payment history: 35%
  • Available credit or debt-to-credit ratio: 30%
  • Length of credit history: 15%
  • New credit requests: 10%
  • Mix of credit types: 10%

To achieve the best possible credit score, it’s important to take all the above factors into consideration.