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In the US there are three well known credit reporting agencies. These are Equifax, TransUnion and Experian. Each agency has their own separate rating system, but they are virtually the same. Some have higher numbers and some have lower. For a while it was popular for credit issuers to request all three and use an average score. But most institutions favor one over the other and rely on that agencies information.

The biggest variable between the three is the information they collect and what is reported to them. Not all creditors send all information or report to all three agencies. Sometimes you cannot even come up with an explanation as to the differences.

One agency shows you have a car loan, and that you make your payments on time, and that you paid off the loan satisfactorily last year, while another might show that you have the loan and made the payments on time, but there are no updated reports for a year, and do not show it being paid off, so they are not reporting negative or non-payments to your report, but they are showing an outstanding loan amount. Another might show that you paid off the loan but not show the monthly payments.

It is a mystery to everyone as to how partial information gets on one report and complete information on another. So it is recommended that once a year, you collect from each of the agencies a free copy of your report and review them and make sure they update your report with correct information. The credit rating agencies take no responsibility for the completeness or correctness of the information on the report.

You can find each of the agencies online and easily request a copy of your report through their internet system. The law is clear on this, each agency MUST provide you FREE of charge a copy of your report annually, or whenever it has been used to deny you credit.

Once you have sifted through all the information, complete the forms and make sure they update your information. Review all the data and make sure that you recognize each credit entry and all loans, debts and credit card entries. This will help prevent fraud and ID theft. If there are entries that you do not know or cannot explain ask the credit agency for details. A lot of the entries will be for pre approved offers that have been sent to you or for current credit issuers, who are reviewing your credit to consider a credit increase or verifying their own information.

This is your personal data, make sure it is right and make sure the credit agencies are doing their job and providing the correct credit information and scores about you. Be a smart consumer.

According to a 2004 Federal Reserve Board report, 79 percent of credit reports may contain some type of error and that roughly 25 percent of all consumer credit reports may contain errors that can result in the denial of access to credit. There are three major credit reporting agencies (CRAs) in the U.S. (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax). Find out what creditors know about you and protect yourself from errors and fraud. With your 3-in-1 credit report you can easily discover differences between the credit reporting agencies. Get your credit report and score below.

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