Credit Scores & Credit Monitoring What To Do About Bad Credit FICO & FAKO Credit Scores By LaToya Irby LaToya Irby Facebook Twitter LaToya Irby is a credit expert who has been covering credit and debt management for The Balance for more than a dozen years. She's been quoted in USA Today, The Chicago Tribune, and the Associated Press, and her work has been cited in several books. learn about our editorial policies Updated on October 30, 2021 Reviewed by Khadija Khartit Reviewed by Khadija Khartit Twitter Website Khadija Khartit is a strategy, investment, and funding expert, and an educator of fintech and strategic finance in top universities. She has been an investor, entrepreneur, and advisor for more than 25 years. She is a FINRA Series 7, 63, and 66 license holder. learn about our financial review board Fact checked by Vikki Velasquez Fact checked by Vikki Velasquez Vikki Velasquez is a freelance copyeditor and researcher with a degree in Gender Studies. Previously, she conducted in-depth research on social and economic issues such as housing, education, wealth inequality, and the historical legacy of Richmond VA as well as their intersectionality while working for a community leadership nonprofit. Vikki leverages her nonprofit experience to enhance the quality and accuracy of Dotdash's content. learn about our editorial policies Share Tweet Pin Email Photo: filo / Getty Images Credit score lingo can be confusing. On any given website, blog, or book, you might see the term credit score. Or you might see FICO score. Then, there's the newer VantageScore. Still, there's another credit score term that's been thrown around in online blogs and forums - FAKO score. What are all these different scores and what do they mean? Which one is the "right" one? Credit Score Is a Generic Term Let's start at the beginning. Think of "credit score" as a generic term that used to refer to the numeric value given to your credit history. Your credit score is calculated using information contained in your credit report and indicates whether you have a bad (low credit score) or good (high credit score) credit history. There are several companies that sell credit scores, and each of the three major credit bureaus has its own version of the credit score. Plus, the major credit bureaus collaborated and came up with their own brand of credit score, the Vantage Score. FICO Is a Brand of Credit Score The FICO score is arguably the most well-known credit score. It's a branded credit score, developed and administered by a company called FICO, formerly Fair Isaac Corporation. For the analogical-minded - credit score is to FICO as a bandage is to Band-Aid. To make matters slightly more confusing: when people say credit score, they're often referring to the FICO score, but they may also be referring to any number of credit scores out there. What About FAKO? FAKO score is a term that refers to any credit score that's not a FICO score. If you purchased your credit score from anywhere but myFICO.com, then it's a FAKO score. These FAKO scores are for educational purposes only and don't necessarily reflect the scores that lenders really use to approve your applications. Even a FICO score purchased online may not be identical to the one your lender uses because there are also many versions of the FICO score, versions for various industries, and previous versions introduced years ago. What's the Difference? As far as we know, all the credit scores are generally calculated the same, except for the VantageScore which gives different weights to credit report information. Since we can't see each company's exact formula, it's hard to pinpoint the specific differences. Creditors and lenders use the credit score from the company they have a business relationship with. It could be a credit bureau's credit score, the FICO score, or the lender's own credit score. The only way to find out is to have your lender tell you. Every lender who either denies your application or approves you for less favorable terms is required to send a free copy of your credit score if your credit score is the reason for that decision. Which Should I Care About? There are far too many different credit scores out there for you to try to improve all of them individually. If you're working on improving your credit, use the FICO score as your basis. If you focus on bringing up your FICO scores, the other "FAKO" scores will come up as well. Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Tell us why! Other Submit Sources The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. VantageScore. "About VantageScore." myFICO. "What Is a FICO Score?" myFICO. "Know Your Rights."