Have you checked your Equifax credit score recently? How about your credit score from another credit-reporting agency? Did they match up? They probably didn’t, at least not exactly. Why?
One of the most frequent questions I receive from consumers concerns credit scores matching up—or not matching up—among credit-reporting agencies.
Don’t worry about it too much. If you see differences between credit reports and credit scores, the important thing to check is that all of your personal information is accurate and the accounts and balances that show up on your credit report belong to you.
So where do these differences come from?
Different Credit Accounts Affect Your Credit Score
Several factors are used to calculate credit scores, and it is difficult to pinpoint one reason for score differences. Generally, when you pull three scores at the same time, the difference is a result of the credit file data being different at each of the three credit-reporting agencies. Not all creditors report to all three credit-reporting agencies, so you may see some credit lines on some of your reports but not all of your reports.
Again, this shouldn’t affect you too much, as long as the information that does show up is accurate.
In most cases, inaccuracies affect your score and may cause differences in scores among the three credit bureaus. Other factors that may affect your score include different score models used to calculate your score and the time at which you pulled your score (for example, your score is different than it was a month ago because something changed in your credit file, like a balance or the status of an account).
Different Score Models Affect Your Credit Score
Most companies that provide credit scores offer three-in-one score products. They pull the data from current Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion credit reports and send it through their respective score models. As a result, even if the credit data (inputs) is the same, the credit scores (outputs) may differ among these companies.
If your score differs among credit-reporting agencies, even if you pull the three scores on the same day, it may be because the score model used is different.
Credit data (inputs) among the three credit-reporting agencies can be different as well. Some creditors don’t report to all three bureaus. Sometimes the files are updated at different times, so all three agencies may reflect the same accounts, but the balances reported may differ slightly.
When You Pull a Credit Score May Affect It
Credit reports and scores may change on a daily basis, depending on how credit active you are. Sometimes the change is merely a result of a balance increase or decrease, and you may receive an alert of this activity if you’ve set up balance-alert notifications. Other times, there may be a key change to your credit report, such as an inquiry or a new credit line, and you can also receive alerts for those changes.
Compare an earlier report and the latest credit report. If there are differences in account balances and types of accounts, those differences may be driving the changes in the credit score.
Come back next week, when we discuss differences between your Equifax credit score and your credit score from a lender.
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