As you know, your credit score is an important figure. What you may not realize is that your credit score is just a distillation of your entire credit report, brought down into a single three-digit number. Understanding a little bit about your credit report, then, is paramount if you’re going to get a handle on understanding and, hopefully, improving your credit score.
Still, having an accurate credit score relies on having an accurate credit report. Yet, there can be things in your credit report that are dragging down your credit score that you might not even be aware of. Here are a few hidden surprises you might find in your credit report:
- An incorrect credit score. Your credit score changes, depending on who’s asking for it. For example, when you ask for your own credit score, the major credit reporting agencies give you the “Consumer” formula. This isn’t always the same formula that they use to determine your FICO credit score, which is the one that they give to creditors and lenders. Generally speaking, your Consumer score will be higher – sometimes significantly higher – than your FICO score. To get the real picture, you need to see what the lender sees, which isn’t always easy to get.
- Misreported credit card limits. The credit bureaus don’t always get accurate information as far as your credit card limits. When that happens, the ratio of your credit limit to your used credit may seem smaller than what it actually is, and that can drop your score significantly. You can contact the credit card company to fix this, but you’ll need to check back in a month with the credit reporting agency to make sure it happened.
- Genuine mistakes. The credit card companies and other lenders have gotten pretty good about making sure they report accurate information to the credit reporting agencies, but sometimes mistakes do happen. If you have a duplicate collection notice, for example, it can hugely affect your credit score. The same goes for derogatory payment information that isn’t accurate. These kinds of errors can be disputed with the credit reporting agency, who will then launch an investigation and, if you’re correct, fix the problem.