When Attorney General Janet Reno said in a recent speech that "credit is the lifeblood of this nation," she was speaking a truth that the average consumer often takes for granted. The high standard of living in this country depends heavily on our having the world's most efficient credit-granting system.

The cornerstone of this system is a lender's ability to quickly and accurately assess risk by using a credit report. Often reviled in the popular media, credit reports and the agencies that compile them provide the essential information lenders need in order to extend credit to most consumers.

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