Did you know that you have not just one, but 3 credit bureau scores? Many people refer to their credit score as if they had just one score, but everyone with a credit history has three scores. Each credit reporting company generates their own FICO score for each consumer. In addition to the FICO score, the credit bureaus calculate other scores, too.
Why Three FICO Scores?
Each credit bureau is a company that competes for business. Credit bureaus serve two groups of customers. One group of credit bureau customers are the consumers for whom the credit agencies track credit data. Any consumer who has established a credit account may be tracked by one or all of the companies. The second customer group that credit bureaus compete for consists of lenders, credit card companies and any individual or business that pulls credit reports to verify the creditworthiness of individuals.
Larger lenders and banks usually subscribe to all three credit bureaus so that loan officers and others can pull the credit history reports from all three agencies for one person. Other lenders and decision makers may subscribe to only one credit tracking company. The three credit bureaus each provide subscription services for businesses who regularly pull credit reports.
The three companies also offer non-FICO credit scores that lender-customers may use. However, by far the most utilized credit score in the U.S. is the FICO. Over 90 percent of all creditors base their decisions about creditworthiness on the FICO score. Because there are three credit reporting agencies, and each company calculates a FICO score for each credit record, you actually have three different FICO scores, one from each agency.
Monitoring Your Credit Score
If you are currently monitoring your credit score to improve your credit rating, or if you are concerned with the possibility of identity theft, you have the option to monitor just one score or scores from all three credit
agencies. You also have the option of monitoring your true FICO score, or another similar score. As a general rule, you should monitor reports from all three credit bureaus. Whether your monitoring plan includes providing the true FICO scores or other credit scores, you must monitor the scores from all three agencies to provide you with the complete picture of your credit standing. If you monitor just one credit bureau, you may be missing significant changes in your credit ratings with the other two companies.
Get Started with Credit Monitoring
Obtain your credit report from each of the three agencies. TransUnion, Equifax and Experian are the names of the three credit bureaus. You can access your credit report by visiting each of the company websites. However, you are entitled to one free report each year from each of the three agencies. Visit AnnualCreditReport.com each year to get your free report from all three companies at one time. Once you have a copy of each of the three reports, study the report for items you can improve upon. Dispute any errors you may find with the credit bureau. Set up a credit monitoring service so that you are alerted when your credit score changes.