A reader of AskTheMoneyCoach.com checked her three credit scores a few days ago and found that the lowest score was based on a credit report didn’t have all of her credit accounts listed.
So she wants to know what she can do. She pays all of her bills on time, and is worried that the report with her missing credit account is keeping her from getting a loan.
It’s true that not having information listed on your credit report can lower your credit score.
The thing to do is to contact the specific creditor in question, and to make sure that the company is what’s called a credit furnisher to the particular credit bureau where the account is missing.
What is a credit furnisher?
A credit furnisher is an institution, such as a bank, a credit card company, a lender, or a mortgage entity. It could even be an auto loan firm, a student loan company, or perhaps a supplier of credit in a nontraditional sense — like someone who gives you a cell phone plan or a utility connection, or even your landlord.
All of these people supply monthly credit data to Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, the three big credit bureaus. As credit furnishers or suppliers of credit information, they have to agree to supply those timely updates to the credit bureaus every 30 days.
A credit furnisher also must tell the credit bureaus when their customers—the furnisher’s customers, that is—make payments on time, or when they make late payments that are 30 days or more past the due date.
As surprising as it may sound, not all companies that extend credit or loans are credit furnishers. Some businesses, for whatever reason, don’t supply information to the credit bureaus.
Perhaps it’s too time‑consuming, perhaps it’s too much paperwork, or perhaps they just don’t want to deal with the hassle of performing that task. But essentially, if a credit account is missing from your credit file, and it’s due to a credit‑granting institution that is not a credit furnisher, then that information will unfortunately not be reflected on your credit reports.
When you contact the credit furnisher, if they say they actually do supply payment data to Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion, then you should tell them: “I looked at my credit report, I checked my credit score, and I noticed that my account with you is missing. Can you please update your records and add my account to the list of files or accounts that you report to the credit bureaus?”
Typically, they should tell you that it isn’t a problem — if they are, in fact, credit furnishers. You may need to also write a letter and to give them your account number.
Just realize that there could be other reasons that certain accounts are now showing up on your credit reports.
One reason might be that your credit is too newly established, and the credit furnisher may simply have a longer process for updating the information. For instance, if you just got the account a month or two ago, it may take two to three months before that’s properly reflected in your credit report. So you’ll need to allow time for that.
If it’s a credit card account that’s missing, you certainly will want to have that noted in your credit report.
It’s important to do so because your credit utilization rate is a factor in your credit score. The more credit lines you have at your disposal and the less of that credit you’ve used up, the higher your credit score will be. So having a new credit account, or even an older credit account that’s more established, can boost your credit score.
Such accounts show the credit scoring system that you responsibly use credit, that you haven’t used up too much of your credit, and that you have another account with even more credit that’s available to you.
The age of that account also matters in terms of boosting your credit score, because the FICO credit scoring system uses your length of credit history as a determinant for assessing your credit score; 15 percent of your credit score is based on the length of your credit history.
In summary, to boost your credit score under these conditions, you want to reach out to the entity that supplied you with credit, and ask whether or not they report credit payment history to the credit bureau in question.
If they haven’t done it for you due to an error or some other oversight, make sure they understand that your particular account is currently not being reflected on your credit reports and that you’d like them to add that credit account to your credit file. Once that’s done, you should see the credit score based on that credit report increase over time.