Getting Your Credit Score

What is the difference between the credit scores provided by different bureaus?

Credit Bureau Information

A Credit Bureau or a consumer reporting agency is an organization responsible for gathering data from different resources to give credit information for several purposes. They are responsible for providing details to creditors on a borrower’s habits in paying and settling his debts.

The Three Major Credit Bureaus

There are three major credit bureaus in the United States, namely Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.

  • Getting Your Credit ScoreEquifax
    – This credit bureau is based in Atlanta, GA, and is the oldest among the three bureaus, being founded in 1899. Aside from providing details about consumer credit, they also operate in the business sector as well as giving out insurance reports. They are listed on the New York Stock Exchange as the symbol EFX.
  • Experian
    – This bureau, on the other hand, has its corporate headquarters in Dublin, Ireland, and has operational headquarters in Costa Mesa, California. They are regulated mainly by the Fair Credit Reporting Act, and they are able to provide credit reports to customers. Credit scores on their site however do not indicate whether they are using FICO, VantageScore, or another different scoring system. They are listed on the London Stock Exchange with a symbol namely EXPN.
  • TransUnion
    – TransUnion also provides credit reports directly to consumers similar to the two other credit bureaus. This bureau is based in Chicago, Illinois, and they are able to provide credit information as well as credit management services.

How to Request for a Credit Report

Every year, it is recommended that you check your records and request for a copy of your own credit report. This is done to ensure all the details noted are accurate and up to date. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is set by the United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to ensure that you can ask for a copy from each of the three credit bureaus annually.

You can request for a report in three ways:

  • By mail – You have to fill up the Annual Credit Report Request Form and mail it to Annual Credit Report Request Service, PO Box 105281, Atlanta, Georgia 30348-5281. After they received your request, you will be able to receive your report in two to three weeks.
  • By phone – If you want to request through phone, you have to call 1-877-322-8228. A simple verification process will take place, and will also take two to three weeks for you to receive your request.
  • Online – If the request is to be made online, then you have to go to AnnualCreditReport.com and undergo as well as a verification process. You will be asked questions about your identity which is more on your finances and previous addresses or locations. The report is then viewed after a few minutes or even instantly.

Requests for copies of your credit report can be made, but it does not actually include your credit score. Credit bureaus and other score-giving models can give it to you but with a certain fee.

Fees Paid for Credit Report and Score Requests:

  • FICO Standard
    -This can give you your credit score, your credit report and even a FICO score simulator for $19.95.
  • Experian Report and Score
    – This includes the credit report and score, as well as credit dispute support which cost $14.95.
  • VantageScore
    – TransUnion’s website offers to give you your credit report and score for a $1 which involves a 7-day trial, after which you will be charged monthly if you don’t cancel the service. A TransUnion’s cost for a price of a VantageScore online is $9.95 and $7.95 if a hard copy is requested.
  • ScorePower
    – Equifax’s ScorePower includes an Equifax Credit Report and a FICO score. Aside from that, online disputes are also given assistance. It costs $19.95 for a 30-day duration.

Scores for the three credit bureaus can still vary because scoring models for the said companies are developed separately, thus resulting to slight score differences. Other credit bureaus may not have all your details on hand, or they may have the same information in different ways.