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Credit Bureaus

Credit Bureaus

We HIGHLY recommend this website for current information:



I couldn’t say it better

There are four main credit reporting companies, Experian, Transunion, Equifax and Chexsystems. It is important to know there is a difference between credit Reports and your credit score. Your credit report is a list of positive and negative financial things that have been reported to a credit bureau by your creditors. It IS NOT a “credit score”.”.


The confusing thing is you have many different credit scores. That is because there are many different systems for calculating your credit score. Many online companies get data from your credit reports (FICO credit scores are NOT included). They (CreditKarma, Credit Sesame, etc.) then use their proprietary software to come up with  THEIR credit score for you. Generally, it will be in the ballpark of your FICO score, but not always. Why not use FICO? – FICO score is more expensive, but the only one used by the VAST majority of vendors.

FICO stands for the Fair Isaacs Corporation, who created of the software used to calculate FICO credit scores. All three big credit bureaus use FICO software, and it can be optimized differently, so each credit bureau can have a slightly different score even with the same information.

Lenders almost always use your FICO scores – not the other systems sold to the public. Only a FICO score is marked as a FICO score, so you can rest assured you’re getting the gold standard – or not.

Each credit bureau uses their own FICO software optimized for them. Also usually, each credit bureau  has different data reported to them from retailers.  Both of these reasons also contributes to the different scores from the credit bureaus.



Chexsystems deals with only financial institutions, and usually just reports negative items, so having nothing on your Chexsystems report is a good thing. Chexsystems collects data from unpaid fees (from overdrafts, no-payments), checks that bounced and suspected fraud. They can also list credit inquiries and consumer-initiated credit freezes. If you are unable to get a bank account, it probably is because of Chexsystems.

Experian, Transunion, and Equifax

These three credit bureaus are the big boys in credit reporting. While they all report positive and negative credit, they rarely agree. This is because many companies only report to one or two of the three credit bureaus. This is because it costs money (which is how the credit bureaus get paid). Different areas of the country tend to report payments to different bureaus. Texas reports mainly to Experian while North Carolina reports to Equifax. This also means credit giving agencies tend to look at just one or two credit reports in their decision to provide you credit.

You can pull TransUnion and Equifax for free here:

You can pull TransUnion, Equifax and Experion here:



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