Why are Equifax, Transunion, and Experian Credit Reports Different?

When a credit report is pulled on an individual, it is coming from one of three companies called Equifax, Transunion, or Experian.  A company may pull credit from one or all three bureaus based on their needs.  Because these are separate companies, there is high probability that there will be variability between them.

Your credit report can be different between these companies for all of the following reasons:

  • Each of the bureaus have differing methods in retrieving their data.  Because these bureaus are in competition with one another, they often will sign agreements for exclusivity with their data providers.
  •  Each of the bureaus have differing methods in consolidating their data.  Some information may be more significant to one bureau over another.  Some of it is the same data, but it’s packaged in a different way than the other two bureaus.  This helps them to provide value to their own services.
  • Even in the case that a data provider furnishes information to all three bureaus, they may send the information at different times.
  • If the data provider sends all of the information at the same time, one bureau may still process this information earlier or later than another.
  • If you’re comparing reports to each other that were pulled on different days, you are more likely to see a different score.  New credit information comes to the bureaus all the time.  A credit report from a month ago may now be obsolete.
  •  Do you sign your name differently at different times?  This can be problematic for your credit report.  Take a nickname for example.  Nicknames may be how your friends identify you, but your official name is what companies will try to keep on file.  Applying for different things in different names will increase the likelihood for errors between the three bureaus.

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