How Do Credit Bureaus Get My Information?

For this week, we get into the nitty gritties of understanding how a Credit Bureau works and why you should be trusting only RBI approved bureaus that play a crucial part in generating your credit score.

Credit Bureaus or Credit Information Companies (CICs) are RBI regulated institutions that help determine your creditworthiness. To be precise, Credit Bureaus are institutions that collect information about your loans and credit cards, and create credit reports that help in generating your credit score. To help put your mind at ease, let’s simplify the entire process of how credit bureaus work to make your credit report.

Credit Bureaus, what do they do?
Credit Bureaus are known as Credit Information Companies (CICs) in India. CICs are licensed by the central bank (RBI) since they are a fundamental part of the financial ecosystem. In India, there are four credit information companies – one such is CRIF High Mark. The role of a Credit Bureau is to gather loan account information from various creditors and provide it back in the form of credit report to similar creditors. The vision behind creating such centralized bureaus was to improve the functionality and stability of the Indian financial system by containing non-performing assets (NPAs) and improving credit grantors’ portfolio quality.

The credit bureau collect repayment information of all loans and credit cards of an individual or a business on a periodic basis from all type of lending institutions across India, so as to create an accurate representation of one’s credit history. The data CICs gather is merged across all loans that an individual or business across multiple lenders under one credit report and a credit score is then generated that reflects the data in that credit report. The more negative information you have on your report- like missed payments, debts, etc.- the lower will be your score. This score is then used for various purposes like granting a loan or credit card or make more loan offers.

Creditors, who are they?
Creditors are none other than all lending institutions in India such as Public Sector Banks (SBI, PNB etc), Private Banks (ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank etc), Foreign Banks (Citibank, HSBC etc), Co-operative Banks (Saraswat Bank, TJSB etc), Regional Banks, NBFCs (Bajaj Finance, Tata Capital, CapitalFirst etc), Housing Finance Companies (DHFL, HDFC Ltd) and MFIs (Satin, Arohan etc). RBI mandates all such lending institutions to share data of all the existing loans and credit cards of individuals and businesses with each credit bureau at least once every month. This data also includes personal information about the borrower, details of loan availed (type of loan, sanctioned amount, when was it taken, etc.) and the current position of the loan like its outstanding amount, overdue amount, when was the last payment done and many more details. The data is shared in a standardized format overseen by the RBI.

Credit Reports, what’s in it?
A credit report is an aggregation of all your credit history. It includes information about your credit accounts such as the type of account, the date it was opened, your credit limit or loan amount, your account balance, and payment history as well as any collections that are in your name. Your entire credit history is a record of your borrowing and repayment activity on credit and loan accounts.

Credit Reports, what role does it play?
Credit report determines your credibility or creditworthiness, which means whether to give you loan or not- for mortgage or automobile or education or for just about anything; interest rates to be levied or credit limit to be allowed on a credit card sanctioned to you; and in cases, employers too can check as part of your application process for a job. In some countries, landlords check whether to rent out their property to you or not. So, theoretically speaking, credit report does affect your life in many ways and more importantly your decisions or desires in life to scale up and grow.

A Credit Bureau is thus a central information platform necessary to create a credit report that may reflect directly on your credit management. So, whether you are financially savvy or not, whether you are looking for loans or not, try keeping your score higher by maintaining good habits regarding your finances and keep checking your credit score at least twice a year from RBI approved credit bureaus, such as CRIF.

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