WASHINGTON — About one in five consumers buying a credit score from a credit bureau receives a "meaningfully" different score than their lender would, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

The CFPB study, released Tuesday, analyzed credit scores from 200,000 files from TransUnion, Equifax and Experian to compare scores sold to consumers with scores sold to creditors.

"This study highlights the complexities consumers face in the credit scoring market," CFPB Director Richard Corday said in a press release. "When consumers buy a credit score, they should be aware that a lender may be using a very different score in making a credit decision."

The agency said a "meaningful" difference means the consumer would likely qualify for different credit offers — either better or worse — than they would expect to get based on the score they purchased.

This could cause consumer harm, CFPB said, and means consumers cannot exclusively rely on their scores to understand how lenders will view their creditworthiness. The agency encouraged borrowers to shop around for credit, check their credit report for accuracy and dispute errors.

The bureau will begin supervising consumer reporting agencies on Sept. 30.

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