Knowing the Score

Knowing the Score. Illustration by ProFed Federal Credit UnionWhen it comes to credit scores, you are more than just a number. That’s because there is no single type of credit score. Some lenders may use your FICO score while others may use your score from a particular credit reporting agency—Equifax, Experian or TransUnion. FICO and the credit reporting agencies use different formulas, so you could have four completely different scores, depending on where you look.

According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), it’s more important to review your credit report than to buy a copy of your credit score. Your credit reports from the three major credit reporting agencies are what make up your credit scores. If the data is wrong on your report, that could have a serious impact on your score.

If you would like to know your credit score, you may have to do some research. Web sites such as Credit Karma, Credit Sesame and Quizzle let you view your reports and credit scores online without paying a fee, but there is a catch. Credit monitoring sites like these are supported by ads from credit card companies. You’ll see offers and recommendations for new credit cards based on your current credit information.

Alternatively, you may want to sign up for a paid credit monitoring service, or purchase your score online.

While it is important to know your credit scores, it’s better to start with reviewing your full reports from Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. If you aren’t sure where to start, first go to annualcreditreport.com. Use the site to obtain your three reports, then review the full details. If there is an error, you can file a complaint with the CFPB at consumerfinance.gov. Once you are certain all of your report information is correct, then you can choose how you want to obtain your credit score.

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