Merged Credit Reports
Merged credit reports are important credit tools for consumers and lenders alike. Therefore, it is important to understand the essentials of merged credit reports.
First, what is it?
- Merged credit reports include credit data from all three of the national credit bureaus. They serve the same purpose as a single bureau credit report, but are more useful because they have information from all three national credit bureaus. Since the 3 national credit bureaus are competitors of each other, they do not normally share information and usually have somewhat different credit information on consumers. A merged credit report from all three bureaus is normally required in a home mortgage transaction.
- Some merged credit reports that are used by lenders may merge the credit information of an applicant and a co-applicant (e.g. husband and wife) into a joint, merged credit report.
- Merged credit reports available to consumers are not normally joint credit reports, but do typically merge credit information from all 3 national credit agencies, specifically identifying what data came from which credit agency.
- Merged credit reports for lenders are usually different from those available to consumers. The most common difference is that merged credit reports for consumers include all the accounts reported including duplicate accounts reported by one or all 3 credit bureaus, whereas merged credit reports for lenders usually eliminate duplicate accounts.
- Credit reporting companies that merge credit reports for lenders develop their own merge method to eliminate duplicate information. For example, some may only report the most negative information among duplicate accounts. Others may report the most recent information among duplicate accounts. Lenders may be able to specify which method of merging they prefer. Merged credit reports for consumers usually do not eliminate duplicate information.
Next, how is the merged report used?
- For consumers, the merged credit report is a great tool to check for identity fraud and identity theft, and for determining if there is inaccurate information in their credit report from any of the 3 major credit bureaus.
- The merged credit report for consumers is also used by consumers to see who has been ordering their credit report. Normally a consumer will recognize who has been checking their credit. Unusual inquiries may be a signal for identity theft.
- Mortgage lenders routinely use merged credit reports to determine your eligibility for home loans. Increasingly, auto lenders are using the merged credit report for auto loans, and landlords use it for tenant approvals. Employers may also use merged credit reports in pre-employment situations.
- Merged credit reports are used by lenders not only to determine if you get a loan but also to determine your loan interest rate.
- Because the merged credit report usually includes information from all 3 credit agencies, a merged credit report may have 3 separate credit scores for the lenders to review and compare in making their lending decision. There may even be a credit score generated based on the merged credit report itself. The credit data from all 3 major credit bureaus plus all 3 credit scores may be used to determine if a loan is made.
- Merged credit reports are used by consumers and companies alike to get the most comprehensive picture of a consumer’s credit history.
- Consumers check their credit reportto make sure it is accurate, and to guard against id theft.
- Lenders use merged credit checks to make sure they know as much as possible about a consumer before making a credit decision.