When it comes time to see what’s on your credit report, or to find out your credit score, it’s important to know which bureau you need to pull from.
Even if you are not close to buying a home or new car, it’s still important to watch over our credit file from time-to-time.
Picking up on any errors along the way will guarantee you the best credit rating, which in return gives you optimal borrowing rates. Plus, doing a tri-annual credit report review is possible at no cost and can dramatically reduce the amount of time it takes to catch identity theft.
That said, there’s a lot you should know about the specific credit bureaus, their reports and their scores, and how it impacts you as a consumer.
Which Credit Bureau Should You Pull From?
Lenders pull from some (or all) of the credit bureaus when gathering information on you as a borrower.
If you need to see what’s on your credit report, there’s no definitive way of saying which bureau you should go through. However, you can take advantage of the free credit reports that are offered every year from each of the bureaus. To do so, just space out your requests so that you receive a free credit report from one of the bureaus every four months.
There are four credit report bureaus in total. They are Equifax, Experian, Innovis, and TransUnion. Each of them post the same types of information onto your credit report, but the exact details depend on what they are given.
For the most part, lenders only deal with Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
These are the bureaus that they entrust with being able to gather any and all information about you as a borrower. Most lenders see them as equals and, as a result, will report all consumer data to the three of them instead of just one. Meanwhile, the forth (Innovis) tends to get left out and will often reflect more negatively on the person’s credit status.
In theory, you could get a new credit report in front of you every three months at no cost. The information on your Innovis report would be less reliable, but it’s still important to check this report at least once a year. If you are going through the AnnualCreditReport.com website, keep in mind that it’s only set up to accommodate the big three bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
Do Lenders Report to All Three Bureaus?
It is up to the creditor to notify the credit-reporting agency about any borrowing behavior, whether good or bad.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act recommends that lenders report to all of the bureaus, but this is not a mandatory requirement. In fact, some credit unions will only report to one of the four bureaus — not to worry, most financial institutions consistently report to the big three.
Another interesting fact is that lenders are not required to report any information to credit bureaus. It’s possible to maintain a car or home loan for many years, while no information about it shows on your report. This is unlikely, and it usually gets fixed upon request. If any old accounts are newly factored into your FICO score, keep in mind that it might take six months before your credit rating fully adjusts.
Since lenders are not required to report in any particular way, the lack of consistency in reported data can become a problem. Innovis tends to get more of the bad information, and not so much of the good. The majority of credit card issuers and loan providers habitually report to the three major credit bureaus, while Innovis gets left out.
How Can You Get Your Credit Report for Free?
You are entitled to a free credit report once a year from each of the credit bureaus. This report can be requested directly, or through the AnnualCreditReport.com website — the one and only permitted website for the distribution of the free annual credit report.
You might want to pull your Innovis credit report for the purpose of making sure it’s not a mess. While each of the three major bureaus’ reports are available through AnnualCreditReport.com, your free report from Innovis must be requested by mail or phone. Still, it’s advised that you make the effort to get a copy of your Innovis report at least once a year — if not for borrowing purposes, at least to protect yourself from identity theft.
To get a copy of your Innovis credit report, call Innovis toll-free at 1-800-540-2505. If you are requesting your report by mail, you can use the printable request form.
What If My Credit Scores Are Different?
Your FICO score will fluctuate, but to what extent will depend on what information your report shows.
The credit score calculation algorithm remains the same, but the specific details that get factored could weigh differently between bureaus. For example, you could have a much lower FICO score calculation at one of the bureaus if they mistakenly left your oldest account unreported.
You just need to know approximately what your credit score is at any given point in time. If you want to be more precise, you can request your credit score from all the credit-reporting agencies. This way, you can determine the lowest and highest score that a lender could possibly see when they pull your credit report.
If you want to keep up with your credit scores all across the board, it’s a good idea to request it at least once every four months. You would need to get your rating from all of the bureaus every time, though. This is because the score can fluctuate a lot depending on many variables, and watching like a hawk would mean you can see what causes particular score fluctuations.
Which Credit Bureau Will Your Lender Pull From?
All you have to do is ask!
Your lender should be more than willing to tell you which bureau(s) they plan to use when pulling your report. Once you have this information, you can pull your file to see how you will come across.
With respect to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, this should only create an inquiry on one of your reports — if it shows up across the board, you might be able to dispute it’s removal. If the inquiry’s effect on your credit score concerns you, just remember that a single inquiry will not hurt your score by more than five points — and it will have zero effect after two years.
Interestingly, you might want to consider this variable when shopping for the best rates and highest card limits. Some consumers are unfortunate enough to have a staggering score difference between bureaus.
If your credit rating is 10 points or more higher at one of the bureaus, then it would make sense to shop for financing through lenders that pull from there. Most lenders are fixed to a single bureau, so it will not be hard to manipulate your loan application results this way.
That said, some lenders will pull your credit report from multiple bureaus. Sometimes this is done to gather missing details, but it’s a standard practice for many lenders.
Which FICO Score Do Lenders Use?
This is completely dependent on the lender. In most cases, credit card issuers and loan providers will follow the advice of FICO and use niche-relevant scores. But, bureau-reporting companies are often slow to take on the new score algorithms. Sometimes the credit report bureaus will also take a while before adapting to the newer scores.
Take a look below for a breakdown on what credit scores might get pulled based on the bureau the lender uses.
- FICO Score 8: the score used for the majority of borrowers, and used by all of the bureaus.
- FICO Score 4 an alternative score for home loan applicants, used by TransUnion.
- FICO Score 3: an alternative score for credit card applicants, sometimes used by Experian.
- FICO Score 2: an alternative score for home loan applicants, used by Experian.
- FICO Auto Score 8: the most frequently used score for auto loan applicants, used by all of the bureaus.
- FICO Auto Score 5: an alternative score for auto loan applicants, used by Equifax.
- FICO Auto Score 4: an alternative score for auto loan applicants, used by TransUnion.
- FICO Auto Score 2: an alternative score for auto loan applicants, used by Experian.
- FICO Bankcard Score 8: the score used for the majority of credit card applicants, used by all of the bureaus.
- FICO Bankcard Score 5: an alternative score for credit card applicants, used by TransUnion.
- FICO Bankcard Score 4: an alternative score for credit card applicants, used by Equifax.
- FICO Bankcard Score 2: an alternative score for credit card applicants, used by Experian.
*The specific credit scores used by the credit report bureau Innovis are not well-documented at this time.
**While most lenders currently use FICO Score 8, it’s important to note that a FICO Score 9 does exist and it is technically newer.
***These are just some of the more common FICO scores, as there are well over 50 different algorithms that exist.
The biggest score discrepancy comes when applying for a mortgage. The credit report bureaus are pretty redundant in this aspect. As you can see, each uses a different specific FICO score algorithm to determine a prospective home loan borrower’s credit-worthiness. This means there could be a big difference in the score that a mortgage provider sees, depending on what’s calculated by each of the bureaus.
Where Does Innovis Come Into All of This?
You might be wondering how Innovis’s credit report bureau really matters in all of this. In a way, they do not — after all, you need to focus on the reporting agencies that your lenders will use.
Innovis is still relatively small, and it might be a while before they are held in the same light as the big three: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. That said, you should still be aware of your Innovis credit report.
For one, you need to remember that any fraud alert posted with the other three bureaus must be manually requested from Innovis. While placing a 90-day fraud alert, or an extended 7-year fraud alert, on your credit file at Equifax, Experian or TransUnion will reflect on the other two, this is not the case with Innovis.
So, any time you end up placing an alert (or security freeze) at one of the three major bureaus — make sure you manually do the same with Innovis. Failing to do so would put your identity at increased risk of fraud, and it could make your Innovis report data unusable.
Innovis and Identity Theft Risks
Put yourself in the shoes of an identity thief. If you wanted to build up trust to increase credit limits, and get approved for more accounts in the victim’s name, would the Innovis credit report not be perfect? The unsuspecting victim would not be aware of the damage if it was left on only their Innovis file; yet, if you were to monitor your Innovis report this would not be a concern.
So, you do not have to worry much about your credit scores supplied by Innovis but it’s important to keep watch of your Innovis credit report. You might even need to focus more on it later on, if it becomes a prominent source of information for lenders at any point.
Thankfully, Innovis is fully aware of the serious identity theft risks around the world. Once thing they certainly do right is help to combat that. Their Business Solutions approach towards identity verification is a prime example of their efforts to disestablish identity theft as a threat.
Which Credit Report Should You Request?
Now, let’s try to give an effective answer to this question.
If you are looking to get an idea of your qualifications as a home buyer, it would make sense to request your credit report (and score) from each of the bureaus.
The home-buying process involves fine-combing your credit details; if there was so much as a single reporting mistake, you would want that cleared up — and factored into your score — before moving forward.
Meanwhile, you should be pulling from each of the bureaus on a regular basis to make sure your information is reported accurately. This includes everything from ensuring all credit accounts are actually owned by you, to making sure the correct balances were stated.
If you find any errors on your credit report, make sure to report them to the respective credit bureau. A few years ago, the FTC reported that approximately 1 in 20 credit reports contain errors. As many as 1 in 250 reports contained scores suppressed by 100 points or more as a result of those errors.