Equifax, Experian, TransUnion…and Innovis?October 2, 2012: 6:30 AM ET
Is there a fourth consumer reporting agency called Innovis? — Barbara S.
When we think of consumer reporting agencies, we tend to focus on the "Big Three" nationwide agencies: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Innovis has been an affiliate of the privately held CBC Companies since 1999, and is sometimes known as the fourth national credit reporting agency.
There are a number of entities that trade in consumer information, and no comprehensive list of who is a reporting agency, according to Chi Chi Wu, an attorney with the National Consumer Law Center. "There are also no minimum requirements or licensing requirements to be a reporting agency," she says.
That said, Innovis specializes in reselling information compiled from the Big Three. Credit reporting agencies such as Innovis may also market mailing lists to creditors. According to Wu, the only marketing that is federally allowable is prescreening. "For example," she says, "a lender may ask for a list of everyone in a certain zip code with a credit score of 720, and the lender will then send firm offers of credit to that list." (You can choose not to receive these offers at optoutprescreen.com.)
It's a good idea to check the accuracy of the information in your credit report at least once a year. You can get a free report from each of the Big Three at annualcreditreport.com, but you can also receive a report from Innovis via the company's website at innovis.com. The report may be free, or may cost you up to $11.50, depending on your state of residence and your individual circumstances.
— Austin Kilham
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