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Experian’s roots date back nearly 200 years, making the credit reporting bureau the longest tenured among the “big three” status that the firm shares with TransUnion and Equifax. It’s also the biggest of the three bureaus, with data on more than 235 million people worldwide, headquarters in the U.S. and Europe, and a workforce of about 17,000 employees worldwide. But Experian didn’t become this impactful overnight. Here’s a brief look at the history of Experian and how it gradually morphed into the credit reporting giant that it is today:

   Experian: A Brief History

  • 1826: Experian’s roots can be traced back to London, England, in the early 1800s, when a group known as the Manchester Guardian Society began sharing information on citizens who failed to settle their debts. This was one of the earliest accounts of modern day credit reporting on record.
  • 1897: We jump ahead and move from across the pond to Dallas, Texas, when a Dallas, Texas-based lawyer began compiling lists of local citizens based on whether or not they were at-risk consumers.
  • 1960s: We take another big jump ahead in time to the early 1960s, when two aerospace engineers with a hunch that currency would transition from cash to credit formed a credit information unit branch of TRW, Inc. TRW’s credit information branch would eventually go on to become Experian in the 1990s.
  • 1970s: TRW follows up its credit information branch with the launch of a small business database branch.
  • 1980s: The credit information and small business database branches of TRW continue to see major growth, and by the mid-80s have accrued data on more than 90 million Americans.
  • 1986: TRW began selling consumers their credit reports for an annual fee of $30 in this year. This eventually came to an end, however, as the Fair Credit Reporting Act granted consumers one free report each year.
  • 1991: This year marked one of TRW’s biggest mistakes as a credit reporting agency. The mishap involved a TRW investigator concluding that about 1,500 Vermont residents had not paid their property taxes, causing their credit scores to take a big hit. Following this, similar mistakes came to light. These blunders put TRW in a negative light, forcing the company to make major changes to its operators and customer service practices.
  • 1996: Experian is officially launched. Brian Capital and Thomas H. Lee Partners acquired TRW as Experian. Shortly after, the two firms sold Experian to England-based Great Universal Stores Limited (GUS).
  • 2006: Experian de-merges from GUS and, for the first time, is listed on the London Stock Exchange.
  • 2017: In March 2017, Experian agreed to pay a $3 million fine for dispersing incorrect credit information to various consumers. The fine was imposed by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
  • Present day: With headquarters in Dublin, Ireland, Nottingham, United Kingdom, and Costa Mesa, California, Experian reports operating revenue of about $4.5 billion (U.S.) annually. It operates in 37 countries and keeps data on some 235 million U.S. consumers and 25 million U.S. businesses.
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Real Estate – The Real History

Ever pondered the history of real estate and home ownership? Over the course of human history, there have been a lot of changes in our ideas about the places where we lay our heads. A few of the highlights of real estate history:
  1. All humans were nomads until somewhere between 30,000 and 15,000 BCE. What changed us? Agriculture. By having plants and livestock grow in a predictable, stable place, we were able to settle down and set roots.
  2. During the next phase, most of the people of the world were renters. A leader, whether a tribal leader, a pharaoh or the head of a feudal family, owned the land and everyone else who lived on it paid for the privilege with a share of their harvest. This would last, for most, until the end of the age of the monarchs.
  3. The rise of the merchant class during the Renaissance brought with it the idea that people had a right to own the property they lived on.
  4. In the Colonial Era in America, Spain, France and England all laid claim to portions of North America. Deeds known as Land Warrants that entitled settlers to land here were distributed by land offices. Many were rewarded for military service with a plot of land under an arrangement known as a Bounty Land Warrant.
  5. There are historians who argue that when Thomas Jefferson wrote the line in the US Constitution about “the pursuit of happiness,” a key concern of that happiness was the right to own property.
  6. Homeownership became the cornerstone of the “American Dream” in the 50 years after the Civil War. As people left farms to seek their fortunes in the city, people saw owning homes as an increasingly important part in securing prosperity.
  7. Franklin D. Roosevelt was a strong proponent of homeownership and many programs to help more people buy homes came to be under his leadership. He is quoted as saying “A nation of homeowners is unconquerable.”
  8. Today, roughly two-thirds of all Americans own their homes. The numbers are higher in out in the country where nearly three-quarters of people own the homes they live in and much lower in urban areas where property is more expensive.
  9. The desire to own homes is not universal. In Germany, despite the high per capita income, only 40% of people are homeowners. It’s not always to your benefit to own, either. Many analysts, for instance, say that someone is better off renting in a place like San Francisco than they are owning a home.
  10. In the US, homeownership is correlated with a lot of benefits for the community. In places where there are high proportions of owner-occupied houses, children do better in school, property is better maintained and crime rates are lower. Owning a home is even correlated with better levels of health.

When you buy a home, you become part of a rich movement with a long history. Begin the work to repair your credit to regain access to this part of your American birthright.