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Why Are My Three Credit Scores Different?

Written by Equifax Experts on August 28, 2013 in Credit  |   49 comments

You have credit scores from all three nationwide credit reporting agencies, and they may not be the same. Equifax Experts help explain why  your scores may differ between agencies—and when you should be concerned.

credit report, credit score, three credit scoresIf you’ve recently checked your credit scores at the three national credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and Transunion), you may have noticed that your credit score varies between the three. After thoroughly reviewing your credit report, you may be asking yourself, “Why are my three credit scores different?”

Your credit scores are determined by a variety of factors, including the number of accounts you have, the types of accounts, your available credit, your payment history, and the length of your credit history. It can be difficult to pinpoint exactly why your credit scores are different because those differences can be related to these and other variables.

Timing is a factor. If you pulled a score from one agency in June and another in July, the score may vary based on the difference in your accounts over those months. For example, if there was a change to a credit card balance or an inquiry, or if a new credit line was opened, your credit score may fluctuate.

Credit accounts can vary between agencies. Creditors are responsible for reporting the details of your payment history to the credit reporting agencies. However, your creditors may not all report to the same credit reporting agencies, which would mean that each reporting agency may have a slightly different set of data it’s using to evaluate you. If you have five lines of credit, for example, all five may appear on one report while only four of the five appear on another.

The number of agencies to which a creditor reports can therefore have an impact on the scores you see from each agency.

Scoring models may be different. Individual credit-reporting agencies use different scoring models, so even if they each have the same information about you, their calculators may reach different results.

While all scoring models are designed to predict risk—where higher scores indicate to lenders a consumer may be lower risk—the results may vary depending on the agency that created a particular model.

A difference in your three credit scores from the three nationwide credit reporting agencies is generally normal, but there may be cause for concern if the differences are caused by inaccuracies. If there are any unfamiliar accounts or accounts familiar to you are overdue or in collections without your prior knowledge, they could be red flags of identity theft. You may want to dispute the error with the credit agency reporting it and then consider a fraud alert or security freeze if someone has gained access to your financial accounts without your consent.

49 comments

  1. jmoore says:

    good information

  2. Anonymous says:

    Why don’t you improve you ability to correct the most stupid errors, address, middle names?? Inocrrect job address, etc.

    Everything is a major dispute to you. A lot of peole have errors on credit reports that have nothing to do with their credit or scores, but you have no”smple” correction process.

    All you want to do is continuee to sell more products.

    Guess you all never watched 60 minutes or other national reporting on the 3 Credit Bureaus.

    What have you done to combat the allegations by 60 minutes????

    I awiat a reply which will neveer come

    • WRTolkas says:

      Dear Anonymous:

      I have had a stellar credit history: two paid off houses, many paid off cars, no balance on my credit cards since 1976. I owe no man or bank a dime. And everything paid in full and on time – with never a dollar from the government to bail me out unlike banks. My identity was stolen last August. Took me months to clear up the mess with no help from the credi agencies unless I purchased some items from the three different agencies: and that includes you Equifax. Most of the people I dealt with had English as a third language. Well I got the mess finally cleaned up, I dropped credit cards that I haven’t used in years and my credit score dropped. This whole mess with the banks and credit agencies is a racket as far as I’m concerned. Legal robbery. Well, I’ve saved enough in my bank accounts that, if need be, I can buy most any new car or anything else I need in CASH. So screw you credit agencies and the banks. I’ll just pay cash from now on. I know, that will again lower my credit score. No, just proves that I don’t need you.

      • MCF says:

        Right On WRTolkas!

      • Anonymous says:

        I agree, it’s a racket. And that’s why you’ll see 3 credit reporting agencies. Equifax is notorious for trying to sell products for any reason or problem you have with their reporting. Even if you purchase their credit monitoring online product they still want to sell you products to look at your own credit reports. IT’S A RACKET to be sure.

        • Screwed :-( says:

          We/I too were recently a victim of identity theft WRTolkas. Well guess what? the damn credit bureaus wanted us to PAY to freeze/monitor our accts, what a JOKE! I thought they were there to help the consumer? Well I’ve learned better. All they want is $$$. Yes a BIG racket! Screw them ALL! I’ll pay cash for everything from now on.

      • mary says:

        Thats great!!!!! I hope one day I can do the same!!!!!

      • Nurse Cookie says:

        Yes, right on to WRT! I am proud of your story and you are right on target about them. They are not FOR us and only gain is to GET and who ever offers them the $ against us, the cosumer, that’s were their loyalty is! I was like you who paid for everything with cash and created a history and debt just to get established. Got sick of them claiming to be correcting a “small” error and taking ages to do so. Now that’s done and I am like you and have the money and will pay cash and not worry over the 3 Bs.

    • J.D. says:

      It is fairly simple to correct any errors. First of all get a copy of your credit report. Call in and talk to someone. Nine times out of ten the corrections will be made. As far as the sixty minutes, that issue was resolve in 2005 and the process has came a long way, partially due to that. Furthermore, they came back and did another story which stressed the need to contact the credit bureaus as soon as the mistake is learned of. One of the reasons they try to sell products is it’s a cheaper way to keep a look out for mistakes. The companies are usually the ones who make the mistakes. And Experian, Transunion , and Equifax cannot correct the mistake if they don’t know about it.

    • Sonja says:

      Quite honestly it is a good thing that the credit bureaus require documents to update personal information even if it is just a simple mispelling or formatting.. Especially in fraud cases.. or cases where fraud might be suspected.. I personally would not want to be able to just call in and change information.. It would be a good way for even more fraud to happen.. Fraud is the largest growing crime rated by the F.B.I.. If the credit bureaus did not require documents, anyone who has enough information to answer the required security questions could change it bit by bit until it eventually would be taken over by something completely different then it really would be a large hassle to get the information corrected.

  3. john boy says:

    All three should work together to be the same because this can effect a persons interest rate or purchase power. Should all converse to be fair to buyers.

    • WRTolkas says:

      Dear John boy:

      That will never happen for the very reasons you state. Banks and insurance institutions: they want all the money you have and they want it now. Remember “Too Big To Fail?” Should be rewritten to: “Too Big for Jail.”

    • mal says:

      If you research, Equifax has a tougher way of calculating credit scores, it pulls from the other two credit agencies and has a tougher scoring model. And most financing pulls from Equifax, plus the other two are somehow a little slower being up to date, I guess cause financial institutions report to them first. So know your Equifax score and ask all financial institutions what credit bureau are you pulling scores from. Do not close any credit card accts too soon, big drop. And balances too high big drop. No more than 2 installments, or a drop. Mortgages are good, but get no where the credit they deserve. Watch out for those year free interest credit cards, cause if don’t completely pay it off in a year, they charge all the interest for the year and it puts balance back to maximum.

  4. Liz says:

    I saw the 60 minute segment and you are right – the whole thing is a big rip off with these people.

  5. April says:

    Equifax is a rip off and it is unfortunately for the consumer the bureau that most lenders use. Best of luck trying to get them to correct anything.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I stronly believe, there should be only one (1) credit reporting agency.

    • J.D. says:

      Unfortunately, Credit reporting is a business and all businesses have competition. Even if they’re federally regulated, only one reporting agency would have them way too powerful.

  7. lorraine destromp says:

    I have quite a few credit cards but don’t use a lot of them should I cancel them and rip them up

  8. Peter Vazquez says:

    I hate being low-balled by Equifax because of your method. It’s not fair to anyone but Equifax.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Why do we need credit agencies to begin with? they are just making money on our information…

  10. Florida Bob says:

    This credit system is a mess and completely bogus.
    I have good credit, when I say good, all of my credit cards are all under 40%, some at 0, car payments paid ontime, never miss a payment, yet my score is at 650-670 because I don’t own a house and that affects my interest on my credit cards. Instead of getting 9% if my score was 680 or above, I have to pay 12%, all because I don’t own a house. I inquired about this and was told “If you buy a house your score will go up 75-100 points” Worse, my car insurance, according to my agent, is roughly $31 more per month because of this. REALLY!!

    Shouldn’t someones credit score be based on if they pay their bills on time?

    • J.D. says:

      That’s a good point, but keep in mind one of they key factors is how long and how much you make good payments on. And mortgages are by far the largest purchases most people make.

    • Des says:

      I do not own a house and I have never bought a car through credit. I have paid off everything I owed as well as having a charge off and a doctor bill under $100 on my credit report and my score is STILL over 700; also I haven’t had a credit card since 2006 and just got one and my score was raised 40 points with only 2 months of reporting with my $300 credit limit card. You might wan to see if you can get something’s deleted off your report. I had many from being divorced and without a job mostly medical bills but I called the collection agencies and asked them to delete and fortunately they did! I have receipts letters and they did what they said. My credit has been cleaned up!

      Good luck!

  11. Amo says:

    I agree with the singular score. All lenders look at equifax as the strictest scorer. I feel that if Experian and Transunion view my credit as stellar why should Equifax knock off up to 20 points just to be the hardass for lenders so they can keep running to you, as the end all be all. My reports mirror each other no variations expect Equifax being different just to be different.

    • J.D. says:

      Equifax is not being harder on you. It’s just the fact that they use a lower scoring model. They use 280 to 850 while the others can go higher, thus naturally making them higher.

    • mike says:

      That’s so true, they score lower just because they can and its so stupid. And all bureaus are stupid for including the lack of a mortgage account in the scoring model..not everyone is interested in buying a home,, we shouldn’t be punished for it. I wonder who was the genius that created this system of credit scoring in the first place bc it gives the credit system all the power and the actual consumer that keeps it relevant none.

  12. anita says:

    I recently was a identity theft victim from someone I know. The inqueries showed up on experian not equifax and I pay for equifax service. The call centers are in India and you have to give your ss to them and all they want to do is sell you more product not help you. I am very frustrated.

    • J.D. says:

      Every time I call into the Fraud departments, they are all in the US. And any time you call and get someone who can’t speak English, ask to be transferred to an American Agent. As long as they’re open, they’ll usually transfer you.

    • EFX Moderator, KB says:

      Anita,

      We would like to help you address your matter. Please submit your matter/inquiry, along with legal name, city/state, & email address used for EFX registration, to equifaxsupport@facebook.com so that a Customer Support agent can respond to you directly.

  13. Anonymous says:

    I agree the credit reporting agency are a joke!

  14. WILLIAM says:

    I HAD IDENTITY THEFT THIS YEAR WITH MY FEDERAL INCOME TAX FILING AND GOT NO REFUND TODATE. THIS WAS REPORTED TO ALL 3 CREDIT AGENCIES. WHY DOES THIS NOT APPEAR ON MY CREDIT REPORT EVEN AFTER I PUT ALERTS ON ALL 3 AGENCIES TWICE???

    • EFX Moderator, KB says:

      William,

      We want to help you address your matter. If you could please submit your matter/inquiry, along with legal name, city/state, & email address used for EFX registration, to equifaxsupport@facebook.com so that a Customer Support agent can respond to you directly.

    • Anonymous says:

      Ummm probably because it has absolutely nothing to do with your credit. None of the credit reporting agencies deal with your taxes. The people who do that are called the IRS. Expecting the CRA’s to handle your tax fraud is like expecting a fireman to help with your car theft.

  15. Anonymous says:

    We need government intervention because that’s the only way to help consumers find protection from this racket. Consumers need a STRONG agency to fight for simple, basic rights.

    • Anonymous says:

      Why do you want government intervention when you aren’t going to use it? There are already two government agencies that regulate the three CRA’s. If you’re crying out for gov’t regulation then you obviously have done nothing with the two agencies already in place, ergo a third probably won’t do you any good either

  16. Sick and Tired says:

    You would think with all the negative publicity and obvious lack of customer care that these credit agencies would do something about the bad reputations they have. My credit score varies almost 50 points between the 3 agencies and it seems ridiculous that they cannot combine information among themselves regardless of whether they score differently or not – they should all have the same basic information. It really is all a sham and the fact that you get a higher credit rating if you are deeper in debt (having a mortgage)is the most ridiculous thing I can see about this whole process.

    • Marlin S. Hurst says:

      You need to have credit in order to build credit, If u sit around like a log then of course your credit will not get better. Yes you have to get account in order to have credit. If you have a car note then yes at first it will hurt you but once you pay it down it will began to help your credit score go up.

    • James Sasser says:

      So by your logic, Mcdonald’s should serve Whoppers and Burger king should sell Big Macs? The three companies are in what intelligent adults refer to as “Competition” You can’t expect 3 companies that are all trying to do the same thing but outdo each other to then share all of their information.

  17. jab says:

    How are the credit agencies funded? I expect it is the credit providers who pay the freight, and therefore, the agencies consider them to be their customers. That is, information about the credit behavior of individual consumers is a product provided to credit providing customers. It is costly to provide excellent service to individual consumers, and riding out waves of complaints from consumers (who are not the real customers of the agencies)does not affect their bottom-line earning. This goes a long way in explaining their less than stellar record in responding to consumer needs and complaints.

  18. Anna says:

    No. Canceling credit cards even unused or with zero balance can lower your credit score. This is because by canceling the cards you are loising a potential line of credit.

  19. disgruntled grunt says:

    I agree that CRAs are bogus and their credit scoring systems apparently suffer from schizophrenia even on best days. And if you are a victim of ID theft, then too bad for you. They will let anyone do a credit inquiry with your info, and then will not take it off no matter what.

    • Jonathan Hurst says:

      ID theft victim hereand you have no idea what you’re talking about.
      1) A security freeze keeps ANY creditor from making a hard inquiry and all three agencies offer it free of charge to ID theft victims, so there goes your first allegation.
      2) If there are fraudulent inquiries reported on your credit file, you simply have to file a police report listing those inquiries as fraudulent and any CRA would be happy to dispute them and every time I have done so the result was the inquiry being removed

  20. JLC says:

    Good Information and very interesting comments.

  21. Ted Vance says:

    I was turned down for a line of credit with an on-line retailer. Equifax had a 100+ point spread with Experian and a 60 point spread with TransUnion. My Experian credit report directly contradicted the Equifax report. Feel helpless? Stop shopping at the vendors that use Experian. Let the vendors know they are paying for erroneous and/or out-dated credit information. You can’t get Experian on the phone and you can’t email them. What kind of accountability does a company with that kind of policy have to offer? Not much.

  22. lee lee says:

    why my scores want show up to leander but i can see them

  23. Glenda Widger says:

    Funny that equifax charged me for my credit score and it was 125 points lower than the one they reported to a couple of creditors last year and yet I have been able to get credit at Lowe’s( really hard to do) and troybuilt this spring with no problems and at&t reported that my score was 150 points higher than what equifax told me. These people are idiots. My score changed 4 times up and down in 6 months even though I have excellent pay history , doubled my income and worked hard to establish my credit after my husband died last year. I think they are just looking for the money not working for the consumer.


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