Why are your FICO® Scores different for the 3 credit bureaus?

In simple terms, A FICO score is a three-digit number that lenders and credit card issuers use to predict how likely you are to repay them if they grant you credit. The company uses a proprietary formula and has various scoring models.
Because the data that goes into the model could come from three different national credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) it creates the likely possibility of having three different scores.
Here are some points to consider 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.
  • Access all 3 FICO scores at the same time. A differentiation in time could result in score differences due to time based components in the scoring model.
  • Not all information is supplied to all three credit bureaus. It’s up to lenders to decide which information they report to the major credit agencies – and which agencies they report to in the first place.
  • There is a possibility that you have credit under different names which may cause incomplete files at the credit reporting agencies. Typically, the credit bureaus combine all files accurately under the same person, however there are many instances 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, resulting in one agency having more accurate information than another.
  • The credit bureaus may record, display or store the same information in different ways.
If you want to track your score over time, you’ll want to use the same brand of score and the same version of it as well. That controls for differences due to which bureau’s credit report is used and which formula interpreted it.
If you have questions about your credit score, reply to this email or give me a call at (800) 822-7120.

-Erik Kaplan