We’ll be answering some of your most frequently asked credit questions on the blog. We hope this discussion will increase your understanding of how the credit reporting process works. Don’t forget to check out part one of this FAQ, which covered late payments and the calculation of your credit score.
Q: Why does a lender see a different credit score than what’s on my Equifax credit report?
A: A lender may be seeing a different credit score than what you will find on your Equifax credit report because another credit score model is being used.
For example, Equifax calculates your Equifax Credit Score using information from all three nationwide credit reporting agencies. Other companies may calculate your credit score using different metrics. While some lenders use blended credit scores from the three credit reporting agencies, others apply industry-weighted credit scores.
Keep in mind that your credit score isn’t static and could change every day as credit grantors, collection agencies, and public records report data.
If your lender calculates a credit score that is very different from your Equifax Credit Score, consider showing your lender a recent copy of the credit score Equifax has reported. Then you can compare the inconsistencies and determine if any information is incorrect.
Q: Why is my credit score different among the three nationwide credit reporting agencies?
A: If you are pulling your credit report and credit score from each of the three credit reporting agencies and find that your credit scores aren’t exactly the same, it’s not a cause for alarm. There are multiple reasons why your credit score may differ.
If you access credit scores from all of the agencies at the same time, a credit score difference may be due to the credit file data at each of the agencies. Not all creditors report to all three agencies, so some credit lines might not appear on all three reports.
Your credit report and credit score can also change daily, depending on your credit activity level. This could be the result of a balance increase or decrease, a new inquiry, or a new credit line.
When comparing your credit report from the three agencies, make sure that the personal information on each is correct and that all of the listed accounts and balances belong to you. Any incorrect information could alter your score.
Q: How do I dispute an error in my credit report?
A: It’s a smart idea to periodically check on your credit report because any erroneous information could affect your credit score. Remember that you are entitled to one free credit report every year from each of the three credit reporting agencies through annualcreditreport.com. You can also request your credit score for a nominal fee when you access your credit report.
If you have been a victim of identity theft or if a creditor has mistakenly reported your account as delinquent, it could affect your credit score. If the incorrect information causes your credit score to drop, it could be difficult for you to get credit at a better rate.
If you find inaccurate information in your credit file, directly contact the credit reporting agency posting the error and file a free dispute. At Equifax, you can file your dispute by Internet, phone, or mail. You will find step-by-step instructions for how to start an investigation into your credit report here.
If you have spotted erroneous information in your credit report from one of the three nationwide credit reporting agencies, consider ordering your credit file from the other two in order to check for the same mistake. You can find both Experian and TransUnion online.
The credit reporting agencies are mandated to investigate all disputes within 35 to 45 days after you have submitted your complaint. At this time, the credit reporting agency will contact you with your outcome—by mail if you submitted by mail or through email updates if you selected that option.
The credit reporting agency can update the status of the disputed information—which could include telling you that the furnisher of the information confirmed that it was reporting correctly—or delete the item altogether. If the agency finds no mistake in your file, the information will remain, but you have the option of adding a statement of explanation.
When you correct an error with one credit reporting agency, the two other agencies should also receive the updated information. To make sure that your information is quickly corrected across agencies, though, you should dispute the error directly with each one.
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