Mixed Credit Reports Explained

What is a Mixed Credit Report?

A mixed credit report is the result of a credit reporting agency’s inaccurate merging of credit information and/or an entire credit file belonging to one consumer into the credit file of another consumer.

The credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union, collect information about you and store it in their databases. They each have hundreds of millions of bits of raw data in their databases and the bits are used to create credit files and consumer disclosures (more commonly known as credit reports).

A credit file is the name used to describe all the information a credit reporting agency has about a consumer. Credit files are created as the result of a query posted to the credit reporting agencies database. The courts and the Federal Trade Commission define the term ‘credit file’ to include anything that might be included in a consumer report prepared about a consumer.

Credit reports contain four basic types of data. 1) Data about the consumer, 2) tradelines, 3) collections, and 4) public records. Tradelines are accounts like mortgages, credit cards, loans, etc.

Each time your credit history is requested, the credit reporting agencies sort though the hundreds of millions of bits of electronically stored pieces of data and generate results, a credit report. The results contained within the credit report are dependent upon the search terms used, just like when you search on Google.

When you Google yourself, Google will search through all its billions of bits of data stored within its database and provide you with search results. And, just like when you search using Google, when credit reporting agencies search through their databases, the results for a search for “Jane Doe” will vary from the results for a search for “Jane A. Doe”. And, just like when you search for yourself using variations of your name, some of the search results will be you and some will not be you. Results may identify another individual with the same or a similar name. The more specific you are when you enter the search terms, like adding a state and city, the fewer and more accurate the results will be.

Like Google, the credit reporting agencies use algorithms (database rules) and can inadvertently merge the credit file of one person with the credit file of another. When this happens, a mixed or merged credit report is created.

What to do if you have a mixed credit report?

If you suspect your credit report contains information belonging to someone else, dispute the information right away. For sample complaint letters and step-by-step instructions on how to dispute inaccuracies on your credit report, click here.