The three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) collect, manage and distribute consumer credit information to potential creditors, lenders and employers all over the nation.
Each of these credit bureaus is independent of each other, in the sense that they have different sources for information, they keep independent data bases and differ even in the way they compute your credit score. They do not share information between them.
When you apply for a loan, credit card, insurance or even a job, the potential lender approaches a credit bureau for a copy of your credit report and score.
The potential lender may ask for a copy of your credit report from just one, two or all three of the credit bureaus. You have no control and no knowledge over which credit agency will supply the information about you.
Why do the three credit reports differ from each other?
Theoretically, the 3 major credit bureaus are supposed to house the same credit information, but that’s not always the case
For example, while large banks and lenders usually report credit information to all three major credit bureaus, smaller banks and institutions may report your credit information to only one. Therefore, your credit report at one bureau won’t necessarily match your credit report at another.
It is therefore important that you check all three free credit reports to make sure that none contain wrong or inaccurate information.
Single Bureau Credit Report
A single bureau credit report contains your credit information from only one of the 3 major credit bureaus (i.e. it is an Experian credit report, Equifax credit report, or TransUnion credit report). As such, it contains only 1/3rd of the available information on you.
For example, while your Experian credit report or Equifax credit report indicate good credit worthiness, your TransUnion credit report may have error in it. If the bank you’re asking a car loan from requests a copy of your credit report from TransUnion – you are facing a problem.
3-in1 Credit Report
A 3 in 1 credit report (also known as 3 bureau credit report, 3 agency credit report or three in one credit report) contains your combined credit information from ALL THREE major credit bureaus.
The 3 bureau credit report gives you better perspective on how lenders see you. It helps to ensure the accuracy of your credit records and give you better protection from identity theft.
Another advantage of the 3 agency credit report is that errors are much easier to detect compared to a single bureau credit report because you can do a line-by-line comparison of the information from each of the three credit bureaus.