Credit Score Confusion: How to Find an Accurate Credit Score Report

Leslie Jones says her credit scores are all across the board, high and low, and she has no idea how to find her true credit score.

"The lowest score is 662, and the highest score is 745," Jones said.

The Garland woman is monitoring her score before purchasing a car. She doesn't want any surprises, but she's having a tough time. She's pulled her scores from her credit card company, CreditWise and all three credit bureaus.

But the difference among them? Almost 80 points.

"It's giving me an inflated view of what the score actually is," said Jones.

So why does this matter? It can mean for big purchases like a car, Jones could be hit with much higher interest rates than she expected.

But according to some Financial Coaches, the solution isn't cut and dry. 

"If you want to know your true credit score or your true FICO score, you would need to order that through the three credit report bureaus: Experian, Transunion and Equifax," said Regina Blackwell of Transformance. They're a nonprofit that help people get out of debt.

Jones pulled all those scores, but she says they're still all over the place, ranging from 676 to 715.

Jones is confused and frustrated, but she's not alone.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says consumers need to know there is no single credit score. That's because each agency gathers information from different places and calculate scores in a number of ways.

So when you're making a big purchase:

"They will pull from all three bureaus, and they will take the lowest of the three," said Blackwell.

That means before you decide on that big purchase you've had an eye on, check with the bureaus.

"If one of them is really really low you may want to pull that one and concentrate on it to see why," Blackwell said.

You have every right as a consumer to investigate your report. There are ways to check your credit score for free:

  • Thanks to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, consumers are entitled to one free annual credit report from each of the major credit bureaus every 12 months
  • If you want to monitor your credit throughout the year, it will cost you. Keep in mind your scores can change from month to month
  • And if you need help improving your credit go see a financial coach. There are non-profits out there that can help at no cost, like Transformance
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