By MIKE GOLDSTEIN
If you've reviewed your credit report from more than one bureau before, you may have noticed some variation from one bureau to the next. Wondering why this happens? Read on to find a few possible reasons and some suggestions on what you can do next.
You got your report on different dates.
This one is so simple it might seem obvious, but it's worth keeping in mind nonetheless. For example, if you checked out your TransUnion report last week and a different bureau today, the information might not match. This could be because one of your lenders has recently reported new information. Before you get too wrapped up in any minor differences between the two reports, ensure that both sets of information are from the same day so you're comparing apples to apples.
Your lender hasn't reported to each bureau.
Lenders aren't typically required to report your information to any particular bureau or any bureaus at all, even. If one of your accounts has appeared on one bureau's report but has yet to appear on another, it could be because that lender simply doesn't report to every bureau. Similarly, if the account is appearing but hasn't been updated on a particular bureau's report, it could be because your lender has chosen to stop reporting to that bureau.
This variation also applies to hard credit inquiries. If a prospective lender checks your credit with only one bureau, then the resulting hard inquiry will only appear on that bureau's credit reports.
Your lender reports to different bureaus at different times.
Even for lenders who report to each of the national credit bureaus regularly, information may vary depending on when they report to each bureau. For instance, your lender could report to TransUnion on the first of the month, and the other bureaus on the fifteenth of the month. If this is the case, then your reported loan balances could differ among those credit reports for the time between the reporting dates. Similarly, if you've recently opened an account, it may take longer for that account to appear on some bureau's credit reports than others.
Your reports don't match for other reasons.
There are all sorts of other reasons why your information might not match up. One possibility is bureau error, so if you're sure that your situation doesn't match any of the others on this page and the information reported looks incorrect, you could consider contacting the bureau directly. If you've applied for credit under multiple names (like your maiden and married names), for instance, then one bureau could have potentially split your file or simply left off some of your information if it doesn't match what they already have on file.
Another variable that could keep certain information on your reports from matching is the manner in which credit bureaus collect information about public records. As opposed to credit cards and loans, which are typically reported directly by your lender to the credit bureaus, public records aren't actually reported to credit bureaus. Rather, credit bureaus will commonly search court records to find items like bankruptcies, judgments and tax liens. The result is that sometimes one bureau might access a public record that other bureaus have not, and you could potentially have, for example, a tax lien included on one bureau's credit report that is missing from others.
So what can you do?
If you've noticed a disparity from one bureau to the next, your next steps are up to you. As I mentioned earlier, lenders are not legally required to report your information to any particular bureau, so if your account is missing entirely, you can't force your lender to start reporting the missing information. Still, you can choose to give your lender a call and see if they'd consider reporting your account.
If an account isn't absent but instead contains outdated data, then you may be in a better position to request an update from your lender and the credit bureau. Keep in mind that your lender may simply report to that particular bureau later than they do to others so allow time for your report to be appropriately updated, but if incorrect or outdated information persists you could dispute the record to prompt an update.
Just like your credit score, your credit reports can differ from bureau to bureau. By checking your credit reports from multiple bureaus at once, you can get a better sense of the complete range of information that's out there about you, and get a handle on any errors that you might want to address.
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