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Myth: Lenders can influence your scores when they pull your credit reports

This is a less-common myth, but because it is so grossly inaccurate, it’s prudent to address it before it spreads.

Imagine this scenario: You apply for a loan at your bank or credit union, so the institution buys your credit report and a credit score based on it from one of the national credit reporting companies (CRCs—Equifax, Experian and TransUnion), to evaluate the risk of doing business with you. If your score is high enough to meet the institution’s lending criteria, and all your other financials meet their requirements, you get the loan and move on with your life.

But what if your credit score is close to meeting, but not quite high enough to actually meet, the lender’s minimum requirement? Some myth-makers suggest that a lender can “tweak” the credit score to make it higher than the one reported by the CRC—or, in another questionable scenario, lower a score to justify the denial of a loan to the applicant. 

That’s utterly false. 

For example, lenders have no access to the scoring model and no direct involvement in the scoring process. The scoring model resides at the CRC. When the lender requests a score, the CRC runs the model and delivers to the lender only the credit score in its final, three-digit form. Thus if you ever hear someone say something like “I had a 750 credit score but when the bank pulled it they changed it to a 680,” you can be sure the speaker is mistaken.

 

Note that it’s possible for a lender to issue you a loan even if your credit score falls below their minimum lending criteria, via a process called manual underwriting. In such a case, a lender might determine that your income, personal assets, or other factors that don’t appear in your credit report outweigh the risk indicated by a low credit score. Although the lender might choose to look past a low score, it would not and cannot change that score into a higher one.

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