How Do The Credit Bureaus Know What Data to Put on My Credit Reports?

Credit reports are compiled from data derived from thousands of sources.  Because of the vast amount of information floating around the credit bureaus’ databases, matching this data to the appropriate consumer is critical and can be a challenge for the three major Credit Reporting Agencies (CRAs), Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.  Proprietary matching logic has been developed by each of the bureaus, so that credit and public record data can be applied correctly to each consumer credit file.

What we know is the matching logic includes name and address information.  Because of this you can see how consumers with similar names and addresses could have incorrect information on their files.  For example, people with the same name except for the suffix (i.e. Jr. or Sr.) and live in the same household could result in a matching error.  John Smith, Jr. and John Smith, Sr. who live at the same address could have the same accounts reported on their credit reports.   It is not uncommon for those employed in the credit industry to avoid giving their children names with Jr. and Sr., because of this.  The end product could be what’s called a “mixed credit file.”

Credit report errors can occur because of the matching logic and incorrect information reported by data suppliers. You may find incorrect information such as accounts, loans, collections or public records you never had, or incorrect payment history. You definitely want your credit file to accurately represent your credit information. Negative data can harm your credit and prevent you from getting a loan or cost you more to borrow money.  For these reasons, it is important for you to review your credit report for errors.

John Ulzheimer is the President of Consumer Education at, the credit blogger for, and a Contributor for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.  He is an expert on credit reporting, credit scoring and identity theft. Formerly of FICO, Equifax and, John is the only recognized credit expert who actually comes from the credit industry.

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