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Are Free Credit Reports Different From Lender Credit Reports?

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Here at Credit.com we encourage our readers to ask questions, share their personal stories and even vent their frustrations, as is the case with a reader who recently wrote to us to with this question:

Why are free credit reports different from the credit reports provided to lenders and other businesses?! What one gets from a “free” credit report is not the same as what a business gets. The one we get is an entirely different version and has no real meaning compared to the one a company gets to figure out if you are credit worthy or not. Call it a SHAME because that is what it is.  — Vincent

Vincent’s frustration is understandable, especially when you consider how credit reports and scores are marketed to consumers, and the differences in the many scores that are available to consumers. Fortunately, we can clear up some of the confusion and offer a way to get a credit score that actually is used by lenders.

When it comes to credit reports, the credit report data itself is the same, regardless of whether it’s a lender, consumer, employer, insurance company, etc. The credit score you receive, however, is usually different. In most cases, credit scores sold to consumers are called consumer scores and are not used by lenders.

FICO scores, which are sold through Equifax, TransUnion and FICO’s website, are one exception. Then there are the free educational scores that are available to consumers. These are not used by lenders but they are helpful in giving consumers a general idea of their credit standing without having to pay for a score (that a lender may not use).

Credit.com’s Credit Report Card now uses the latest version of the VantageScore — VantageScore 3.0, which IS used by lenders. You can also compare your VantageScore to your Experian credit score using the same tool.

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