You have three credit scores—one from each bureau. And while each score is likely to be a slightly different number, they should be similar.
If one score is significantly different from the other two, such as 20 or more points lower, that could mean there’s an error on one of your reports. And having one score that is significantly lower than your other scores can affect your ability to use your credit when you need it. For example, if you get denied for a mortgage loan due to a credit error, the time it will take to get that error resolved could mean you lose out on buying the home you wanted.
More than 30 percent of consumers reported at least one error on one of their credit reports in a Consumer Reports survey. The most common errors include unrecognized accounts, unrecognized debts reported to collections, and payments wrongly reported as late or missed. Errors like that can lead to a significant drop in a score, so it’s crucial for you to find them and correct them when they occur, rather than waiting until you need to use your credit.
Because it can take significant time to remove an error from your report, make sure all three bureaus have your correct scores before you try to get a loan or other credit. Ensuring your reports are free from errors will help expedite the loan process and avoid any hiccups.
How to Find Credit Errors
When one score is significantly lower than the other two, it’s a signal that there may be one or more errors on your credit report. To find the reason for the difference among your scores, you’ll need to search through each of your three credit reports and look for any discrepancies.
In some cases, a credit error could be several years old. Some consumers must wade through years of credit information, line by line, on each report to find potential errors.
However, ScoreSense now offers a side-by-side score comparison, which makes it easy to skim the information in all three credit reports and quickly identify discrepancies. With a simple, scannable layout, the score comparison chart shows each account on your credit reports. Next to each account are three columns, one for each bureau, and the columns include month by month reporting for each bureau that reports that account.
By scanning the side-by-side score comparison chart, you can avoid the tedious process of combing through every page of your reports from each of the three bureaus, looking for differing information. Within a few minutes of scanning your comparison chart, you can find any discrepancies in your reports.
How to Handle Credit Errors
When you find a discrepancy in one credit report, it may be an error. A credit error on your report can continue to drag down your score and affect your ability to access credit or get affordable interest rates.
To get an error removed from your credit report, you must go through the dispute process with the bureaus.Start by gathering evidence to support your claim that the information in your credit report is false, such as documents that show an account was paid. You may dispute the error online, by phone or by mail with each bureau. The credit bureaus have 30 days to respond to your dispute. (If you need help, ScoreSense members can use the ScoreSense Dispute Center, which will walk you through the dispute process.)
It’s a good idea to keep track of all three of your credit scores on a regular basis and remember that a drop in just one score could signal a credit error. (Note: It’s possible to have a credit error even if all three scores are similar, so it’s a good idea to be aware of all the info in your reports.)
If you are a ScoreSense member, start using your side-by-side credit comparison chart by logging into your account, clicking on “Credit Reports” and scrolling down to “Compare Reports.”
If you’re not yet a ScoreSense member, give ScoreSense a try with a free, seven-day trial membership, which includes the side-by-side score comparison from day one.