Why Multiple Agencies?
The main reason lenders pull two or more of your reports is to cross-reference and verify information. Examples of note include mortgage lenders who, due to the large and important financial transaction they're about to underwrite, require a full financial picture and routinely pull reports from the three main bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. You're also likely to experience pulls from multiple bureaus if you're applying for a personal loan in which a lender basically hands you a pile of money with only your credit history as collateral. Beyond due diligence, the credit agencies a lender uses can change depending on the state you live in and even the type of loan product you're applying for. This means that a company may use Experian in Maryland, but pull from TransUnion in Ohio. Likewise, a lender could opt to only pull Equifax reports for credit card applications but require both Equifax and Experian reports for auto loans.
When Are Lenders More Likely to Pull Just One?
Some situations are more favorable to single pulls. Lenders who process a large volume of near-instantaneous applications via automated systems will often use only one bureau, as the cost and time requirements can become prohibitive for multiple pulls. Likewise, smaller lending institutions may find it cost prohibitive to pull from multiple sources and might be more likely to use the information from just one credit report. Credit card companies often only pull one report during the application process, as well. The company might pull reports from other agencies if it requires additional information or clarification, but one pull generally is enough, because credit card debt usually isn't as considerable as a car or house loan and the lender doesn't need to dig deeply into your finances. Credit card companies also have other risk-protection measures, such as higher interest rates and greater ability to set and change credit terms and limits.
Finding an Equifax-Only Lender
Credit pulling is a somewhat fluid business, so there's no way to create an accurate, comprehensive list of lenders who only use Equifax. However, user-created credit pull databases can serve as helpful starting points. Once you've narrowed down some options, call the lender and ask which bureaus it uses. That information isn't always available, but it can be worth a try. If you want to increase your existing credit with a current lender, get copies of all three of your reports and compare the "Inquiries" sections of each to find lenders that only pulled from Equifax.
Increasing Your Chances
Even if a lender uses a different credit reporting agency or pulls from multiple agencies, you may still be able to encourage an Equifax pull. By putting a credit security freeze on your Experian and TransUnion accounts, you can restrict lenders' access to these reports. The lender receives a message stating that you have requested manual authorization, which requires you to contact the credit reporting agency and request a temporary lift before the lender can see your credit history. This is a time-consuming process, so many lenders will simply pull your report from the available credit bureau -- in this case, Equifax. This method is most often used when your reports contain incorrect or otherwise disputed information as a result of identity theft or other fraud and you wish to keep that data out of consideration.