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Even though you may hear more about your FICO credit score, your consumer credit report is a more nuanced, complete and significant part of your financial identity. Your credit report matters more to most lenders, and it should probably matter more to you.

In some ways, your credit score is a quantified snapshot of significant portions of your credit report. The information that is submitted to the credit bureau and appears on your credit report is the basis for determining your credit score. Technically, you have several different credit reports, and there are many different ways to calculate credit scores. This is why it is particularly important to review your credit reports periodically.

The lack of a standard for credit scoring model complicates lender considerations. Some lenders place a lot of weight on FICO scores, but even FICO scores can be calculated in different ways. Some lenders may decide to use VantageScore, the chief competitor to FICO. Other lenders have their own scoring models. The lack of uniformity makes it difficult to put too much faith into your credit score at face value, which subsequently leads lenders to review your credit report carefully for a more accurate picture.

Knowing your own credit score is important, but just knowing your credit score doesn't cut it either. You cannot dispute a bad credit score, but you can dispute inaccurate or misleading information on your credit report. Removing inaccuracies on your credit report can lead to improvements in your credit scores.

Lenders do not just review the reported data on your credit report, either. The major credit bureaus provide a host of services to lenders, including advanced analytics regarding your specific debtor profile. You are analyzed against other debtors in similar demographics. Your history is dissected, and some items that are outliers on your credit report may be ignored. Lenders gain a ton of insight from your credit report.

This is not to say that your credit score is an unimportant factor to lenders. There are lenders that have product incentives based on your credit score, and others that only accept applicants with a minimum qualifying credit score. In these circumstances, advanced study of your credit report is not taken into consideration; you either qualify, or you don't.

It is more important to review your credit report and correct any mistakes. If you understand your credit report, you are more capable of discussing it intelligently with potential lenders to explain any abnormalities and, if necessary, argue why it may not reflect your actual creditworthiness. It also stands to reason that, by understanding what impacts your credit, you are more likely to make sound financial decisions and improve your credit score and your credit report over time.

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