There are actually dozens of different credit scores that are available from the 3 credit bureaus. If you don’t specify exactly what scores you are requesting, you may end with 3 different scores which can be miles apart from each other.
If you are talking about the same FICO score coming from the 3 different Credit Reporting Bureaus, there would also be slight differences between them for various reasons. They may be using the same scoring methodology supplied by FICO, but they will be using the same formula to calculate data from their respective databases. And this is where the differences may occur.
For one thing, there are instances when vendors will only report a credit sale to one of the CRBs and not to all three. Or, a particular report from a vendor may not have been encoded yet in one of the CRBs when the credit report was requested. Vendors have been known to report the same data to the different bureaus at different times.
There is also the possibility of errors in filling up forms with a particular vendor. For example, you may have incompletely filled up an application form and inadvertently left out important data which caused the information to be filed under another person’s name. This happens often but they can also be easily corrected.
Another instance where discrepancies occur is if the consumer filed for different credits under different names like a maiden name. This will result in fragmented files at the credit bureaus and may cause the discrepancy.
There are hundreds of possibilities why there would be a discrepancy on the three credit scores supplied by the different credit bureaus and the best approach to ensure you don’t bungle with your credit application is to ask the lender which credit bureau it is using.
The other way is to get the report from the bureau where you have the best score and look for a lender or a vendor who uses the same credit bureau.
If you don’t ask specifically, you’d get a Vantage Score instead
The three credit bureaus have collaborated to develop their own credit scoring system which is called Vantage Score. At anytime you request for a free credit score from any of the CRBs, you’d be provided with their own Vantage Score. And, if you compare this with the FICO score you may have gotten somewhere else, you’d probably be shocked at the wide differences.
Vantage Score is now being used by 10% of the lenders nationwide. You will never know which scores they use until you ask. So one of the things you need to know is what credit scoring system the lender uses. I am sure they will gladly provide you with this information.
Another thing you need to bear in mind is that credit scores is just one of the basis a lender uses to decide whether to approve or deny a credit application. The FICO scores provided by the 3 CRBs do not set the cut-off levels. It is up to the lenders to set their own cut off levels. This only means what may be risky for some may be acceptable to other lenders.
You also need to keep in mind that credit scores are used by your lenders to measure your capacity to repay the loan. If you continually nurse your credit score to healthy levels by constantly monitoring it and keeping up to date with payments, you will be able to maintain a good standing with your current creditors and it will definitely reflect on your credit score regardless of what scoring method is used or what CRB the report may come from.