Here in the good olé U.S., there are three national credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) that capture, update and store credit histories on most U.S. consumers. While most of the information collected on consumers by the three credit bureaus is similar, there are differences. For example, one credit bureau may have unique information captured on a consumer that is not being captured by the other two, or the same data element may be stored or displayed differently by the credit bureaus. A FICO scoring system resides at each of these credit bureaus from which lenders request a FICO score when evaluating a particular consumer’s credit worthiness. The FICO scoring system design is similar across the credit bureaus so that consumers, will likely see a similarly high FICO Score across the three bureaus. Conversely consumers with lower FICO scores will likely get low FICO Scores on the three bureaus when the underlying data is the same across the bureaus.

There can be score differences even when the underlying data is identical as each of the bureau’s FICO scoring system was designed with a unique data algorithm. Keep in mind the following points when comparing scores across bureaus… Not all credit scores are “FICO” scores. So, make sure the credit scores you are comparing are actual FICO Scores. The FICO scores should be accessed at the same time. The difference in time can result in score differences due to model characteristics that have a time based component. Comparing a FICO score pulled on bureau A from last week to a score pulled on bureau B today, can be an issue as the week-old score may already out of date.

All of your credit information may not be reported to all three credit bureaus. The information on your credit report is supplied by lenders, collection agencies and court records etc. Don’t assume that each credit bureau has the same information pertaining to your credit history, it might it might not. You may have applied for credit under different names for example, Robert versus Bob or a maiden name, which may cause fragmented or incomplete files at the credit reporting agencies. While, in most cases, the credit bureaus combine all files accurately under the same person, there are many times where incomplete files or inaccurate data social security numbers, addresses, etc. cause one person’s credit information to appear on someone else’s credit report. Lenders report credit information to the credit bureaus at different times, often resulting in one agency having more up-to-date information than another.

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