All credit reporting agencies (aka “credit bureaus”) are not created equal, to borrow a phrase from history. In fact, you need to know about the key differences in case you ever need to amend a report, dispute a charge, place a freeze on your credit or even post a fraud alert.
An informative article at Bankrate’s website delves into all the components of credit reports if you want to dig deeper. Staying on top of your scores and reports is essential because mistakes can and do occur. It’s also crucial that you know the weak spots, if any, in your credit history so that you can fix them and boost your overall rating.
- The three bureaus, TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax produce their own reports and scores, which are often quite different from each other. One reason is that some creditors report to only one or two of the agencies, and do so at different times. This is why it is vitally important to get all three scores and reports at least once per year in order to stay on top of your financial health.
- If you see what you think is fraudulent activity when viewing your report, contact any one of the agencies and tell them about it. You don’t need to contact all three, since they must share this information with each other.
- To place a credit freeze (which locks everyone but you out of your credit data) you will need to tell all three agencies.
- If you want to dispute something you notice on one of your reports, you’ll need to contact the agency that issued the report, whether it’s just one or two of them, or all three. Only Experian, for example, can fix an error on an Experian credit report.
Knowing how to handle the components of your credit reports will serve you well when it comes time to purchase a home. Even if you have relatively good credit, remember that one error on a report can cause your rating to go down significantly. Don’t be a passive victim! Stay on top of your financial data and be a proactive consumer.