Generally, most companies that issue lines of credit (e.g., credit cards) use different bureaus depending upon your zip code. While it's possible that Dell may maintain some security interest in what they sell you (as may some department stores that issue credit cards), it's very unlikely for the vast majority of these companies to actually try to "repossess" upon default. Thus; unlike, for example, auto finance, which is a completely different animal with which I have little familiarity, I categorize Dell accounts as essentially unsecured lines of credit.
While a good part of the last paragraph is off-topic, I mention it to emphasize that it is an area that goes to my general expertise.
Some credit card companies often update this information (what bureau to use in what zip code). One way they do it is by comparing the accuracy of samples of information provided by all three bureaus for specific zip codes or areas.
There are a few important points that should be noted here. First, while the large majority of credit issuers use all three bureaus both for purposes of evaluation and reporting, there are some that don't use all three for both purposes. Dell uses Web Bank, which is a division of Citibank (to my knowledge). They're pretty big, so it's likely they use all of the bureaus, and the bureau they pull is probably based on area. It's also noteworthy that, although the vast majority of issuers only pull one bureau report (unless there are unusual circumstances) to evaluate your credit, there are (or were) at least one or more major issuers that routinely pulled two*. The biggest example of this was MBNA, which customarily pulled reports from two bureaus prior to issuing credit. MBNA has long been acquired by Bank of America, though, and even if some of the operational / strategical facilities are still open, the process may have changed.
Now that you know how it works, here are some tips for you: First, you should review the content of all three bureaus on a regular basis. The possibility exists that one or two bureaus may report something derogatory that isn't on the other(s). This could affect your creditworthiness (including your score) greatly. Even if there aren't major discrepancies, there are usually some differences among bureau reports, even if it's only a matter of an old account that has dropped off of one bureau, but is remains on another. Fair Issac & Company developed the initial FICO score based on data in Experian files (probably still called TRW when they did this). Even if the data in all reports is essentially identical, you will almost always see at least small differences in your FICO scores among different bureaus. That's because although the essence of the data in all bureaus is the same, the layout and display are different. There are even fields that exist in some bureaus that don't in others.
Fair Issacs worked very hard to address this, so that the scores would be aligned (or be as close to being aligned as possible) across bureaus, which is why you'll normally see only minor score differences among bureaus if the data they contain is essentially the same. It should nonetheless be noted that while most people have heard the term FICO score, and know its general meaning**, probably a lot fewer have heard the names "Beacon" and "Defender," the technical names for the FICO scores at the other bureaus.
The final tip: If you find something derogatory on one or two bureaus, but not on the third, is to apply for credit at an address in a completely different area of the country (assuming you have family, etc., there. Remember, the Patriot Act is designed to verify your identity, not your location), where a different bureau (hopefully the one without the derogatory trade) would be pulled.
There are some generalities within the industry as to what bureau is most commonly associated with what area, but because of the fact that creditors have changed and / or mico-managed (i.e., by using specific, single zip codes, as noted above, instead of groups or general areas), I hesitate to do so.
I hope you find this helpful.
* It is again important to emphasize that this applies to issuers of unsecured credit. It may be different when an application for a different type of credit is submitted (e.g., I have heard that when one applies for a mortgage, it is (or used to be) routine for issuers to pull all three bureaus).
** Very, very few people know the EXACT definition of the term "FICO Score." By that, I mean what the score actually is specifically designed to do. While it isn't confidential, I won't give away the answer because I find it amazing that so few people know -- even among people who work in the industry (but if you think you know, and correctly state it, I will tell you if you're correct).
VERY IMPORTANT: I have heard that the score provided to you by Experian no longer is identical to your actual FICO score, as seen by creditors. This may have changed (or perhaps the other bureaus don't provide it anymore either); regardless, I advise that you check your score with at all three bureaus on a regular basis.
Whoa... Ummm, that was a lot to read while waiting on the coffee to brew.
First of all, although some lenders still vary which CRA (= credit bureau) they pull by geographic area, within the last few years many of them settled on just one bureau. If you read the threads here dealing with who does so-and-so pull, you'll see that the members here generally reply with answers such as EX --I'm in Texas or EQ --I'm in Virginia.
Second of all, we do know what a FICO score is, courtesy of the fact that these forums are sponsored by (and maintained by) FICO. They're no longer called Fair Isaac (no s), by the way. A FICO score is a risk score that attempts to predict the risk to the lender of default on the part of the borrower.
A Defender score is not a classic FICO risk score. I think it's a bankruptcy risk score, perhaps? That's an interesting one. I've pm'd the FICO forums admin to ask if he knows about them. Of course, there are lots and lots of FICO scores, and FICO may own Defender scores as well. The three scores that are discussed (to death, lol) on these forums are the classic FICO scores, which are used by the big mortgage lenders. Equifax is Beacon 5.0, TransUnion is Empirica Classic 1998 or 2004 (we're still stuck with TU98 here, alas), and Experian is Experian Fair Isaac Risk Score v.2. We're also aware of the FICO industry-enhanced scores, such as auto-enhanced and credit-card-enhanced, as they can sometimes play into lender decisions, especially the auto-enhanced scores. There's a link about them over on the Auto Loans board.
Web Bank used to be CIT Bank, which went belly-up. I don't think that they're connected with Citibank, although there's always a lot of confusion between CIT and Citi, of course, and there may well be a link there. How anyone can determine who owns whom these days and for how long can be a challenge, that's for sure.
FICO (Fair Isaac) doesn't address the issue of score variance across bureaus. That's the job of the CRA's, who don't particularly seem to care about accuracy, I must say. The three FICO score formulas dealt with here were each commissioned by the individual CRA's, using their databases, and they have known variances, even with similar reports. When my three young adult kids first started building credit, we compared their three scores (we could buy our EX FICO score back then), and none of them matched, even when each kid's three reports were identical. So although it's perplexing and maddening when people find this out, we're all aware of it around here.
Since Experian no longer allows consumers to buy our own EX FICO score, as of February 13, 2009, they have done a very nice business selling their FAKO scores from their website. And they definitely don't match the EX FICO score, as they are based on a different scale and are created by a non-FICO (= FAKO) score formula. There are multiple FAKO scores and formulas out there, with score ranges all over the map. One version has a lowest score of 500, so it's obviously not going to track with FICO's.
I think we'll all agree that Dell, or Web Bank, isn't going to try to repo laptops. Updating the defaulting borrower's credit report with lates, etc. is what they do instead.
I advise that you check your score with at all three bureaus on a regular basis.
This can't be done because as HTSU has already mentioned the consumer cannot buy an Experian FICO score on their own from any source since 2/2009. Creditors can pull Experian and also there is a CU in Pennsylvania that supplies that information to it's members only.
From a BK years ago to:
EX - 9/09 pulled by lender 802
EQ - 7/06-663, 3/10-800
TU - 8/10-772
You can do the same thing with hard work
Hmmm. Just noticed that this thread was from 2007. Why on earth was it resurrected, I wonder?
Hmmm. Just noticed that this thread was from 2007. Why on earth was it resurrected, I wonder?
Maybe it was Barry testing our mods (mod layoff?) reaction to new members to make sure they welcome a new member to the forum. I don't see one, tisk tisk.
Seriously, a good way to jump into the action here is to respond to a thread that deals with something one has experienced before, even and older thread.
Welcome to the forum. The forum and our mods are great despite an occasional lag in decorum.