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Credit Info Center's Credit Report FAQs

Credit Report FAQs

Last Updated: March 8, 2017

Everything that affects your credit is listed in your credit reports. So, the more you know about how they work, the better. When are credit reports updated? Which ones do lenders use? Which ones do you need to see? And how many ways can you see them for free? Below are answers to these and other commonly asked questions on the ins and outs of credit reports.

About Credit Reports

Checking Your Credit Reports

Credit Reports Used by Lenders

How are credit reports created?

Credit reports are created when you open your first line of credit. They include personally-identifying information, as well as details specific to your new credit account. From that point forward, your credit history will be recorded in your credit reports, including:

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Who creates credit reports?

The big three national credit bureaus – TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax – create credit reports. They’re the ones that data furnishers (e.g., credit card issues, auto lenders, mortgage lenders) report information to, be it positive or negative. The credit bureaus are also responsible for investigating credit disputes should you find inaccurate information in your credit reports. Back to Top

When do credit reports update?

Data furnishers send new info to the credit bureaus once a month. That said, they don’t all do it on the same day of the month. And instead of waiting for all the new data to come in – doing one big update on one day of the month – the credit bureaus update reports as new information is receivedBack to Top

How many credit reports are there?

There are three major credit reports, each compiled by one of the big three national credit bureaus. All three reports have the same type of information, but not necessarily the same listings. Data furnishers are not required to report to all three bureaus. So, never assume that what’s on one credit report will be on the other two. Back to Top

How many credit reports have errors?

A 2012 study issued by the FTC found that 1 in 5 consumers had an error on their credit reports that was corrected after filing a credit dispute. But how many more errors are on reports that consumers either don’t know about or don’t bother disputing? The takeaway? Look for and dispute credit report errors. Back to Top

Are credit reports international?

Though credit reports are used internationally, the credit reports you have in the United States are not the same credit reports that would be used if you moved to, and applied for credit, in another country. There you would be subject to that country’s credit reporting system, meaning you would basically be starting from scratch. Back to Top

When did credit reports start?

In Time's "The Long, Twisted History of Your Credit Score," author Sean Trainor writes, "By the end of the Civil War, the three pillars of modern credit reporting were in place: private-sector mass surveillance that made credit reports possible, bureaucratic information-sharing that made them widely available and a rating system that made them actionable." Back to Top

Are credit reports free?

Yes, credit reports are free every 12 months through AnnualCreditReport.com, and all year long through free credit monitoring sites. You can also request free reports when:

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How many credit reports should I get?

When you use AnnualCreditReport.com to request free access to credit reports, request all three. Check all three at once if:

Otherwise, consider staggering them every 4 months. And either way, supplement with free credit monitoring sites.

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Which credit reports should I check?

If you’re applying for financing – and you know with certainty which credit bureau a lender uses – you could limit your check to that one report. If you don’t know which bureau they use, check all three. Beyond that, request all three reports once a year (for free) through AnnualCreditReport.com and consider free credit monitoring sites all year long. Back to Top

Which credit report is better?

The big three credit reports are of equal value. But you might consider one “better” if it’s the one a lender uses to consider you for credit. That would be the better credit report to check before applying. A credit report might also be considered “better” if its information is more positive or accurate than the other two. Back to Top

Which credit report is used most?

The big three credit bureaus aren’t the only consumer reporting agencies. There are dozens of them, most specializing in specific aspects of consumer reporting (e.g., tenant screening, employment screening, utilities, retail). But of them all, the credit reports from TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax are used most. What’s not clear is which of the big three gets used most. Back to Top

Which credit report do lenders use?

Any one of the big three credit reports could be used by lenders. If you want to know which credit report a specific lender will use, you can try asking. Though not exhaustive, you can also use the Credit Pulls Database. Otherwise, assume any one of your three credit reports could be used – from TransUnion, Experian, or Equifax. Back to Top

What credit report is used for mortgages?

Most mortgage lenders use all three of your credit reports. And each bureau uses a different FICO Score version when calculating scores based on these reports:

Plus, what’s on one credit report may not be on the others, further influencing varied FICO scores.

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What credit report is used for car loans?

An auto lender could use any one of the big three credit reports – from TransUnion, Experian, or Equifax – when considering you for financing. All three credit bureaus offer FICO Score 8 when calculating scores based on these reports. But they also offer older FICO versions:

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What credit report do landlords look at?

There are several consumer reporting agencies that provide tenant screening for landlords:

To see these reports, look for contact information in the CFPB’s list of consumer reporting agencies. Back to Top

What credit report does Wells Fargo pull?

If we go by the Credit Pulls Database, it looks like Wells Fargo pulls mostly from Experian and TransUnion, and sometimes Equifax. For more specific results relative to where you live, search the database for Wells Fargo credit pulls in your state. Note, results are not representative of all credit pulls, only consumers who contributed to the database. Back to Top

What credit report does AmEx pull?

If we go by the Credit Pulls Database, it looks like American Express pulls exclusively from Experian. Search the database for American Express credit pulls in your state. Though you can expect Experian to turn up every time, the database includes other helpful details. Note, results aren’t representative of every credit pull, but the experiences of database contributors. Back to Top

What credit report does Discover pull?

If we go by the Credit Pulls Database, it looks like Discover pulls mostly from Experian and Equifax, and sometimes TransUnion. For more specific results relative to where you live, search the database for Discover credit pulls in your state. Note, results are not representative of all credit pulls, only those of consumers who contributed to the database. Back to Top

What credit report does Citi pull?

If we go by the Credit Pulls Database, it looks like Citibank pulls mostly from Experian and Equifax. For more specific results relative to where you live, you can search the database for Citibank credit pulls in your state. Note, results are not representative of every credit pull, but experiences of consumers who have contributed to the database. Back to Top

What credit report does Capital One pull?

Unlike other credit card issuers, Capital One pulls from all three credit bureaus. That’s not to say they could pull from any one of the three, but that they pull all three every time. If you look at the Credit Pulls Database, there’s one bureau listed in the CRA column, but the notes column specifies multiple credit pulls. Back to Top

What credit report does Walmart pull?

If we go by the Credit Pulls Database, it looks like Walmart pulls mostly from TransUnion, but sometimes Experian. For more specific results relative to where you live, search the database for Walmart credit pulls in your state. Note, results are not representative of all credit pulls, only those of consumers who contributed to the database.

Didn’t find the answer to your question here? Ask in our free, friendly forum on credit bureaus, reports, and scores. Back to Top

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