One Consumer – Three Different Credit Reports

As the year is coming to a close, now is a better time than ever to order a copy of your credit report, especially consumers who have not taken advantage of their free copy from annualcreditreport.com.  After receiving a copy of your report from all three credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian and Trans Union, and checking your report for errors, you may notice several inconsistencies among the three agencies for the same accounts.  How is it possible…one consumer, same account, but different information?  

Credit reporting inconsistency is more common than you would think.  First, while you may believe that the three credit reporting agencies are a team, they are actually competitors and don’t share information.  Each agency is responsible for collecting and storing information in its own credit database.  It is believed that each agency is responsible for storing information on more than 200 million consumers.  Providing your credit information to each of the three credit reporting agencies is not obligatory and creditors may choose if they want to report to one agency or to all three and a credit reporting agency can opt to not report your information at all.  The Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”), the federal law that governs the conduct of the credit reporting agencies does not require the agencies to report any information regarding consumers, only accurate information and it is this reason that each of your reports may vary.

Different reports more than likely mean different credit scores.  While most credit reports share much of the same information about you, each agency may also report or update information from your creditors at different times.  This means that based on the billing cycle of your accounts, there may be different balances on each report.  Your account balance is one of the factors that is used to determine your credit score.  Depending on when the information is updated, your score may be vastly different amongst the three credit reporting agencies.      

In summary, because not all creditors and collection agencies report to all three of the major credit reporting agencies and because they don’t all choose to report the same information, your reports will not all look the same.  Your account information is not all updated at the same time, so depending on your billing cycle, your accounts will either carry a hefty balance or could be paid in full.  It is not expected in the industry that your three reports will look the same, but it is expected that your information is accurate and a true reflection of your financial history.

Another reason your reports may contain different information is because the 3 bureaus do not always communicate with each other.  If a consumer were to dispute an account to one credit bureau then only that credit bureau is going to make changes.  If the item in question is to be deleted, indeed it is the creditor’s job to notify the remaining bureaus of the deletion.  However, if it is not a deletion and just an change of some of the account information, then only the bureau that received the dispute will make the change. 

If you believe your rights have been violated under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, and you would like the advice or assistance of counsel, contact SmithMarco, P.C. for a completely free case review.