When it comes to the credit statement, credit report, and credit score of an individual, these are all compiled by recognized agencies, which are known as credit bureaus. Given how vital the credit statement and credit score are for any individual seeking to establish a line of financial credit for themselves, accurate credit history information compiled by the credit bureaus acquires even more importance.

In this article, we shall dwell on understanding what credit bureaus are and which are the recognized credit bureaus in India. 

What are credit bureaus?

In simple layman terms, a credit bureau may be understood as an agency that collects information about an individual’s credit, including borrowing, bill payments, pending bills, etc. This information may then be shared with credit information companies, which may be assessing an individual’s credit statement and reports for such financial purposes as a grant of a loan, a credit card, etc. 

The credit bureau obtains the information on the individual’s credit from several data providers, which may include creditors, lending institutions, public record offices, debt collection organizations, among others. Sometimes this information may also include more comprehensive data such as utility bills, mobile phone, and telephone bills, etc. This information is then collated in the form of a credit report. 

The information collected by the credit bureau can be accessed for a small fee by creditors as well as by the individuals themselves who seek information about their credit. However, the credit bureau does not influence whether credit should be extended to an applicant or not. 

Difference between Credit Bureaus and Credit Rating Agencies

Contrary to popular belief, credit bureaus and credit rating agencies are not the same. Credit rating agencies are mainly for investors seeking to assess the risk factor involved in investing in or lending to a company or organization. On the other hand, credit bureaus are for collecting information on individuals and disseminating this information in the form of a credit report to lenders based on which the latter determine the creditworthiness of the individual and whether to extend credit to them. 

Additionally, credit rating agencies award their ratings in terms of letters such as AAA or CCC, with the former being the highest and the latter being the lowest. Credit bureaus offer credit ratings in the form of numerical scores, also understood as credit reports, and these may range from anywhere between 300 to 850. 

List of recognized Credit Bureaus in India

While the first credit bureau in the world was founded in the late 19th century, in India, it was only in the year 2000 that the first credit bureau was established under the auspices of the Reserve Bank of India. Eventually, other global credit bureaus made their way to India. They were granted recognition by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), the Government of India’s regulator of the securities market in India. Today, six recognized credit bureaus are operating in India, which are as follows:

  • CIBIL

The TransUnion Credit Information Bureau (India) Limited, more commonly known as CIBIL, is the most widely recognized credit bureau in India. Founded in 2000, CIBIL is said to maintain the credit history of over 600 million Indians as well as 32 million business organizations. CIBIL was the first credit information bureau in India to be founded by the Reserve Bank and India and later partnered with the Chicago-base TransUnion International Inc.

TransUnion CIBIL provides comprehensive reports based on the credit statements of an individual as well as commercial borrowers to its recognized partners. Individuals may obtain market insights, a credit score (known as the CIBIL TransUnion Score), credit information, and other reports. In contrast, companies can obtain portfolio reports, company credit information, CIBIL Bureau analyzer reports, and others.  Credit reports processed by CIBIL take approximately seven days. 

  • Experian

Another SEBI-recognized credit bureau, Experian, was established in 2006 and obtained a functional license to operate in India in 2010. The Experian reports are compiled for individuals as well as for companies. Individuals can access credit information reports which detail the credit history of the applicant.

Businesses and companies can get access to customer acquisition reports, collection and money recovery reports, customer targeting and engagement reports, as well as other data and analytics. Experian’s credit scores range from 300 to 900, with 900 being the highest and most ideal for any individual. While the cost of obtaining an Experian report is not very high, it takes almost 20 days for the report to be processed. 

  • Equifax

One of the three largest credit bureaus in the world, Equifax, was initially established in 1899 as a retail credit company. It was only in 2010 that it obtained a fully functional license to operate as a credit bureau. For individuals, Equifax offers credit scores, risk scores, portfolio scores, and others, with ratings from 1 to 999, where 999 is the highest.

Again, for companies and businesses, credit fraud reports, portfolio management, risk management reports, industry diagnosis, and other reports may be obtained.  

  • CRISIL

Formerly known as the Credit Rating Services of India Limited, CRISIL was founded in 1987 and, as of today, is one of the leading global analytical companies providing detailed credit reports for companies.

With Standards & Poors as one of its stakeholders, CRISIL provides ratings for companies and businesses, conducting detailed market research using several analytic factors and then provides policy and risk advisory services to clients.

Aside from India, CRISIL also operates in many other countries such as China, UK, the USA, Poland, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Argentina. 

  • ICRA

The Information and Credit Rating Agency or ICRA was established in 1991 and operated as a publicly listed credit bureau. It provides credit ratings, corporate governance ratings, and performance ratings to mutual funds, construction companies, hospitals, etc. 

  • CRIF High Mark

The only comprehensive credit bureau approved to operate in India by the Reserve Bank of India, CRIF High Mark, was established in 2007 and obtained the license to operate in 2010. It covers individuals, medium and small enterprises (MSMEs), commercial borrowers, microfinance borrowers, and others.

The scores issued by CRIF High Mark range from 300 to 850 with a score of 720 and above is the highest and 640 and below is poor. Individuals can obtain credit reports, portfolio management reports while companies can get the PERFORM score, credit report, and so on.

Currently, only four of the six credit bureaus in India provide credit reports for individuals, and these are CIBIL, Experian, Equifax, and CRIF High Mark. All of these are recognized by the Reserve Bank of India and provide comprehensive reports for individuals seeking an account of their credit history and credit scores.

However, the bureaus themselves do not influence whether credit may be extended to an applicant or not. They only assess the reports generated by them.

Aahna Gandhi

Aahna Gandhi is an enthusiast traveller, writer and a PR Professional. She likes sharing memorable moments from her travels and inspire others to live a life full of wonder. Known for her content, she has worked for travel, technology, lifestyle, health sectors as well as finance.

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