Savvy consumers understand the importance of credit scores — those three-digit numbers that represent an individual's credit worthiness. What many people don't realize, however, is that they have at least 3 credit scores: one for each of the major credit bureaus. Checking only one score may give you a false sense of security when it comes to monitoring your credit.
Credit bureaus calculate your score based on information contained in their own files. The trouble is that creditors do not always report to all three credit bureaus, and in some rare cases, a bureaus file may contain inaccurate information. This means that your credit scores are often slightly different from each other, which is not usually a problem. It becomes a problem, however, when a score is significantly lower than the others because this may affect your financial standing.
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When a creditor, landlord, or insurance company runs a credit check on you, they are often concerned with your credit score. Sometimes, they may pull your score from just one credit bureau, or they may pull all 3 credit scores. Either way, if the person running your credit notices that you have a low score, you may end up getting a higher interest rate or, paying a higher security deposit on an apartment.
You can avoid these mishaps by checking your credit reports and scores from all three credit bureaus regularly. If you notice that a score has taken a dip and you can't figure out why, review your credit report. There is a possibility that you are the victim of identity theft or that your report contains inaccurate information. If you do spot an inaccuracy, contact the applicable credit bureau. Federal law gives you the right to challenge information on your credit reports. If the creditor or credit bureau cannot verify the information in question, the credit bureau must remove it from your report.
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