While writing this blog, I've become fairly familiar with the major, national credit reporting agencies: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. Consumers should know that there are many more credit reporting agencies (also called "credit bureaus) within the United States, and worldwide.
After a brief search, there seem to be several hundred credit reporting agencies in the United States alone. The Collection Agency Services (CAS) Web site maintains a database of regional credit reporting agencies which is searchable by state. I found about 55 credit reporting agencies in California, 72 in New York, and 12 in Massachusetts. Who knew that there were so many?
The CAS site isn't the best. While it does display the town and ZIP code for each credit reporting agency, it does not display Web site links. This means that consumers have to do the extra step of performing an Internet search to find Web site addresses and phone contact information.
Consumers should take the time to search for credit reporting agencies in their state. The search results will give you an idea of the number of companies that archive consumers' sensitive personal data. And, if I can find this database, then identity criminals can, too.
It would be better if each state's consumer protection agency or department of justice maintained a list of credit reporting agencies in their state. Consumers need an easy-to-find, convenient place to find this information.
Why these smaller, regional credit reporting agencies weren't included in many states' consumer breach notification and Security Freeze legislation is a mystery to me. Does anyone know the answer?