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A credit bureau or credit reporting agency collects your credit history, and allows loan issuers or other companies and organizations to review your credit when applying for a credit card, loan, or even a job. Credit bureaus can only release your credit information with your permission.
You can check your credit report from each credit reporting agency annually for free. It's important to look for errors or evidence of identity theft/fraud. Watch out for companies that offer "free" credit reports -- often, you'll have to pay for a subscription to their service.