Experian is one of the world’s most well-known global information services companies, providing information, analytical tools, and marketing services to help guide commercial and financial decisions. Founded in 1980 by Michael A. Barron and Bernie Brenner, Experian now employs 17,800 people across 44 countries.
Experian is most recognizable as one of the three major consumer credit bureaus. Creditors use the reports from Experian and the other two major bureaus (TransUnion and Equifax) to help them determine whether to lend money to consumers who are applying for credit or a loan.
In addition to its claim to fame as a leading credit bureau, Experian provides a wide range of services to both commercial clients and individuals. On the commercial side, the company helps organizations:
Individuals can also use Experian to:
Experian provides free and paid services designed for first-time credit-holders and savvy consumers looking to protect their identities and boost their credit scores.
Experian offers both free and paid options for checking your credit report and score. You can access your credit report and score for free once per year. However, if you prefer to access all three of your credit reports at once, you can purchase your 3-Bureau Credit Report and FICO Score for $39.99. You’ll also be able to view which factors are affecting each of your credit scores, including:
Many banks and credit unions provide free FICO scores for customers. So if you want to monitor your credit score regularly, save yourself some money and see if your bank offers this service.
Experian Boost is a free service designed especially for consumers looking to increase their credit score. When you sign up for the service, you can get credit for bills like your phone, utilities, and even your Netflix account, which your Experian credit score will reflect.
Credit monitoring is available through Experian if you want to keep close tabs on your credit to prevent unauthorized access. You can choose from both free and paid options. The CreditWorks Basic plan offers:
For $24.99 a month, Experian’s CreditWorks Premium adds the following premium features:
Recognizing the significant threat posed by identity theft, Experian also offers two levels of identity theft protection packages which combine credit monitoring with a higher level of fraud protection.
Its IdentityWorks Plan costs $9.99 a month and includes:
At $19.99 a month, IdentityWorks Premium includes those features as well as the following:
Both plans extend a free 30-day trial.
Like the other major credit bureaus, Experian allows you to add a fraud alert to your credit report for free. Fraud alerts add a layer of protection if you’re in a situation that leaves you vulnerable to identity theft. When potential lenders see the fraud alert, they will know your personal information may have been compromised and that someone may be trying to apply for credit in your name fraudulently. This will prompt them to take additional steps to verify your identity.
When you request a fraud alert from Experian, the company will automatically notify the other bureaus (TransUnion and Equifax), which will automatically add the alert to your credit profiles there as well.
A fraud alert on Experian will last for 12 months or until you remove it. You can also opt to add an extended fraud alert if you are a confirmed victim of identity theft. You’ll need to provide a copy of a police report or identity theft report to prove your need for an extended alert, which will remain on your credit report for seven years.
Experian’s credit freeze is a free tool to help victims protect their credit as they recover from more extreme identity theft cases.
Freezing your credit report on Experian means that most companies won’t be able to view your report until you lift the freeze—identity thieves won’t be able to open fraudulent accounts in your name, but you won’t be able to apply for credit, either.
According to Experian, a credit freeze is helpful if you know that someone has access to your financial details. However, it isn’t a cure-all for identity theft. While scammers won’t be able to apply for credit in your name, you’ll still have to notify your bank and credit card companies to prevent them from making unauthorized purchases.
Experian will activate your credit freeze within 24 hours of your request. This differs from a credit lock, which is available for a fee through Experian’s CreditWorks Premium and identity theft protection plans, which you can turn on and off instantly and has no waiting period.
While most consumers are familiar with Experian as a credit bureau, the company also provides a wide range of services to commercial customers. Aside from its consumer services, Experian has three other business lines: credit services, marketing services, and decision analytics.
For businesses, Experian provides both one-time report purchase options and an ongoing subscription-based monitoring plan for the credit profile of a chosen company. Businesses can also check their customers’ or clients’ credit reports using Experian’s paid services.
In addition to credit reports and monitoring, Experian also provides an extensive menu of services to larger companies seeking help with other business needs, including:
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