Have you seen emails asking you to check your credit scores? If yes, they are part of the credit reports issued by the credit bureaus in India and act as the foundation of your creditworthiness. But what are these credit bureaus and why do we need them? Read on to know all about credit bureaus and their role in the financial fabric of the country.
What are credit bureaus? and which are the credit bureaus in India?
A credit bureau is a credit rating institute in India which are set up and operate under the RBI guidelines and regulations. It is an organization which is charged with gathering and maintaining credit-related information about individuals and businesses. In India, there are several credit bureaus, such as CIBIL (Credit Information Bureau (India) Limited), Experian, Equifax, and CRIF HighMark. These bureaus collect data from various sources, including banks, financial institutions, and lenders or financial patterns like income tax records, payment of utility bills, etc. The data collected by these institutions forms the basis for the credit reports for individuals and businesses.
Which are the different credit bureaus in India?
The core details of these credit bureaus are discussed here.
TransUnion CIBIL, established in 2000 and functioning as a credit bureau in India since 2004, possesses an extensive database containing credit information records of over a billion individuals and businesses. With a membership exceeding 5,000, including major financial institutions, banks, housing finance companies, and NBFCs, it stands as a trusted source for managing lending risk adeptly. Renowned for its reliability, TransUnion CIBIL offers user-friendly services to access credit scores, comprehend their components, and explore comprehensive credit-related insights through its website and app, CIBIL® Score & Report. It introduced the pioneering CIBIL score in 2007 and launched India’s first database of high-risk credit activities and mortgage loans in 2010.
With a global presence spanning over 125 years, Experian is renowned for its data and analytics services, emphasizing improved credit management and financial inclusion. It commenced its credit bureau services in India in 2010 and collaborates with 5,000+ members and maintains a database exceeding 430 million records. Other services of Experian include aiding individuals in enhancing and sustaining credit scores, supporting business growth and counteracts fraud and identity theft. Experian collaborates with financial, insurance, e-commerce, and telecom entities, furnishing a diverse array of information services using cutting-edge technology and data analysis. They are also recognized with accolades like the ‘Technical Innovation Award’ and acknowledgement as one of Forbes’ ‘World’s Most Innovative Companies,’. Experian India delivers both consumer and commercial credit reports along with valuable market insights.
Having a global presence for over a century, Equifax initiated its credit information and service offerings in India in 2010. In collaboration with esteemed institutions like the Bank of Baroda, State Bank of India, and more, Equifax Inc., USA, established Equifax Credit Information Services Private Limited (ECIS). Serving 1000+ members, including insurance companies, NBFCs, banks, and microfinance institutions, ECIS is recognized for its pioneering insights in microfinance, fintech lending, retail lending, and MSME financing. Equifax India facilitates data access for borrowers and lenders alike through a range of reports like Basic and Enhanced Consumer Information Reports, Equifax Alerts, and Microfinance Institution Credit Information Reports. Renowned for its advanced analytics, industry acumen, and credible data, Equifax India is a trusted name in the field.
CRIF High Mark
CRIF High Mark, a prominent player among Indian credit bureaus, actively supports numerous lending decisions monthly. Established in 2008 and commencing operations in 2011, it delivers a diverse range of services spanning credit information, management, analytics, and scoring. Its clientele includes banks, insurance, telecom firms, and NBFCs. Renowned investors like Edelweiss, State Bank of India, and Punjab National Bank are associated with the bureau. CRIF High Mark holds the distinction of being India’s pioneer in furnishing comprehensive information for varied borrower categories, covering MSMEs, retail consumers, microfinance, and commercial borrowers. With data collection spanning over 4,000 financial institutions, it boasts one of the nation’s largest databases. Additionally, CRIF High Mark stands out as the first to introduce comprehensive Credit Information Reports, microfinance credit reports, and commercial scores in India, reshaping the credit landscape.
What are the main functions of credit bureaus?
The primary function of credit bureaus is to collect, compile, and maintain credit-related data about individuals and businesses, generating credit reports and scores that help lenders assess creditworthiness and make informed lending decisions.
The role of credit bureaus in India can be explained simply as under.
Credit bureaus actively gather comprehensive information pertaining to individuals’ credit activities. They collate data from a variety of sources, including banks, lenders, and financial institutions. This information encompasses details about an individual’s credit history, loans taken, credit card usage, payment patterns, and other financial obligations. The aim is to create a comprehensive profile of an individual’s credit behaviour and financial standing.
Credit score calculation
One of the core functions of credit bureaus is to calculate credit scores based on the data collected from various sources. Credit scores are numerical representations that summarize an individual’s creditworthiness. These scores are generated through complex algorithms that take into account factors such as payment history, credit utilization, length of credit history, types of credit used, and recent credit inquiries. A higher credit score indicates a lower risk profile, making individuals more attractive to lenders.
Credit report generation
Credit bureaus compile the collected data into credit reports. These reports provide a comprehensive overview of an individual’s credit history and financial behaviour. Credit reports offer a holistic snapshot of an individual’s creditworthiness and are used by lenders to assess the risk associated with extending credit.
Assisting in the lending decision
Lending institutions, such as banks and financial companies, rely on credit bureaus’ reports and scores to make informed lending decisions. When an individual applies for a loan or credit card, lenders request their credit report and score from the credit bureau. These reports help lenders evaluate an individual’s ability to repay borrowed funds based on their credit history and financial behaviour. Positive credit history and a high credit score enhance the likelihood of loan approval and favourable terms for a person or a business.
Protection against fraud
Credit bureaus play a vigilant role in monitoring for signs of identity theft and fraudulent activities. They function as a crucial safeguard against unauthorized attempts to secure credit in an individual’s name. By promptly detecting any irregularities or suspicious activities, credit bureaus contribute to the prevention of fraudulent financial transactions.
Who regulates Credit Bureaus in India?
Credit Bureaus in India are regulated and supervised by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), which ensures their adherence to guidelines and standards to maintain the accuracy, security, and fairness of credit-related information.
How do credit bureaus get your information?
Credit bureaus gather credit information from various sources, including banks, lenders, and other financial institutions. These sources provide data about your credit history, payment patterns, loan accounts, credit card usage, and other financial activities.
What is credit score?
A credit score is a numeric depiction of one’s creditworthiness, showcasing the likelihood of repaying loans or meeting financial commitments. It serves as a pivotal gauge for lenders, like banks, to evaluate lending risk. In India, credit scores range from 300 to 900, with 700 or higher generally deemed favourable by lenders.
What are the factors that affect credit scores?
Several key factors influence credit scores, shaping how lenders perceive a person’s ability to manage credit and repay borrowed funds. Some of these factors are mentioned hereunder.
- Consistent loan repayment history and repaying the credit card dues within due dates.
- Having an optimum credit utilization ratio which is usually 30% as most industry experts
- The duration of the credit history also impacts the credit scores where a longer credit history generally tends to provide a better credit score
- Having a mix of different types of credit, such as credit cards and loans, can positively impact your score.
- Credit enquiries also have an impact on credit scores where soft enquiries do not damage the credit scores, however, frequent hard credit score enquiries may reflect or be considered as risky credit behaviour.
All credit bureaus in India are licensed by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), and each employs its distinct algorithm for credit score calculation. Therefore, it may result in potentially varied yet valid scores and remain recognized across institutions. Both banks and non-banking finance companies (NBFCs) regularly furnish credit data to all bureaus for the generations dn updation of credit reports.