How are the three major credit bureaus different?


Although many credit reporting agencies exist in the United States, three major credit bureaus are pivotal in giving credit reports. They are Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. These bureaus are not owned by the government. They are publicly-traded, for-profit companies. However, the government came up with Fair Credit Reporting Act for other credit bureaus and the ways they operate.

FICO, (Fair Isaac Corporation) is not a credit bureau but is a company that develops and maintains the FICO score. They do not collect the data but compile the reports given by the data provided by the 3 credit bureaus.

You can easily manage your credit if you are aware of the nuances of the credit reports. You need to invest some time and effort from your side. Since your credit scores are important to managing your finances and saving money, it is your responsibility to know about the credit bureaus that formulate credit ratings.


It deals with various aspects of identity theft, credit management, and other problems. It also deals with a range of credit clients like individuals, companies, businesses, etc.


It also offers various services for people, companies, and businesses regarding disputes, credit card identity thefts, etc. it basically encourages visitors to use its online services.


It addresses and assists people in various issues and concerns. Online forms can be used to report identity thefts, errors or other issues.

Though all the 3 bureaus have similar information of the consumers there are subtle differences like for instance a bureau may have more information about a particular consumer which is not present in the other 2 bureaus. Or else the same data is reflected elsewhere in the credit report.

The FICO score is also similar in the 3 bureaus and if one bureau shows a high credit score even the other bureaus too show a high score. In case the score differs it means that the underlying data is different which is making the difference. However, sometimes even when the data is same still the score may be different because the FICO scoring system is designed in such a way that the predictive value of the data is optimized.

The following points are to be kept in mind when comparing scores among the three bureaus:

  • All credit scores are not generated by FICO. So while comparing you should compare only FICO scores.
  • All the scores should be considered at the same time. Otherwise, there may be differences because of the model characteristics that vary due to the time component.
  • You credit report information is given by the collection agencies, court records and lenders. Hence, all 3 credit bureaus may not have all your information.
  • Sometimes one bureau may have up to date information than the other because lenders report credit information at different times to the bureaus.
  • Credit bureaus may follow different methods of storing, recording and displaying of your information.
  • You may have applied differently at different credit bureaus like with a maiden name of one bureau for example which generated incomplete files or fragmentation.
Updated: November 29, 2016 — 5:01 pm

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