TransUnion is a global corporation and one of the "big three" credit bureaus in North America that offers complete credit monitoring services to its clients. Similar to the services offered by its main competitors, Equifax and Esperian, a TransUnion credit report allows a creditor to keep track of changes in their credit history, monitor debt, late payments, and even identify possible misuse of credit. The company is now based in Chicago, Illinois, and operates 250 offices in 25 countries.
TransUnion was founded in 1968 by a railcar leasing operation, Union Tank Car Company, as its parent holding company. 1969 marked the acquisition of Credit Bureau of Cook County (CBCC), which introduced them as important players in the credit industry. From then on, TransUnion relied heavily on the acquisition of various city credit bureaus, gaining national coverage though the 1970s and the 1980s. During the 1970s, TransUnion also became the first company to replace accounts receivable data with automated tape-to-disc transfer, optimizing both the time and cost necessary to update consumer files.
This allowed the company to expand beyond the credit reporting industry, and into real-estate services, where they enable lenders to monitor loans and manage post-closing processes, as well as gain access to nationwide prospects, among other things.
During the 1980s, the company came under the control of the Pritzker family, famous for owning several billion dollar businesses in the United States, including the Hyatt hotel chain and the manufacturing conglomerate Marmon Group. As of 2010, however, the Pritzker family maintains 49% ownership of TransUnion, while the majority owner is Chicago-based firm Madison Dearborn Partners LLC.
In the United States, credit bureaus like TransUnion work by collecting and matching personal information and financial data on individuals, obtained from various data furnishers, such as creditors, lenders, utilities and other institution. The purpose is to help assess a person's credit history and financial behavior. This can enable banks, stores or credit card companies to establish a potential client's credit risk, meaning the probability that a person will pay their debts as promised. In the event that a person is considered high-risk, a lender may change the terms of contract or even turn down a deal altogether. Various algorithms and scoring models are used to determine mathematically accurate values that may describe a person's willingness to repay a debt, generally by using data from past payments. Another factor that comes into play when determining the size of the loan is income, which means that a person with a higher income will be able to access a more substantial loan when compared to a person with a reduced income, even if their credit risk is equal.
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