Tri-merge Credit Report: Understanding the Residential Mortgage Credit Report

A tri-merge credit report is a single credit report that merges information from the three main customer credit reporting agencies, which are TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. Tri merge is also referred to as a residential mortgage credit report or a 3-bureau credit report. This kind of credit report is unique to the mortgage industry.

Applying for a mortgage and applying for a loan is slightly different. A mortgage is a bigger loan, and therefore, you will undergo a more thorough process compared to personal loans, student loans, and auto loans. During the credit card application process, the card issuer will likely pull only one of your credit reports. It is possible for them to examine more than one report, but this is an exception. 

On the other hand, the mortgage lender has to examine your tri-merge credit reports when considering you for a mortgage. If you are applying with someone else, let’s say a spouse, the lender will also examine their tri-merge credit report. 


Tri merge credit score: is there such a thing?

The tri-merge credit report is merged, but the credit scores themselves are not merged. You tri-merge credit report has your usual FICO score calculated by each of the credit reporting agency. 

If there is no tri-merge credit score, then what do the mortgage lenders use? They mostly use the middle score. If applied jointly, then they will look at the lower middle score.

The credit bureaus also have their own formulas for credit reports. TransUnion has a range from 300-850, Equifax also has its Beacon score from 300-850 while Experian has a score range of 330-830. Of course, these scores are not the standard FICO credit scores. Almost the entire lending decision is determined by the FICO. 

The closest credit score to a tri-merge is the VantageScore. This is the credit score that bureaus created to compete with FICO. Basically, VantageScore is what the three bureaus have all agreed to assign each customer. It is, however, not a blend or mixture of the three individual credit scores from each bureau. 

You should also remember that the mortgage lender sees a somewhat different credit score from what you see in the online credit score you purchase. The consumer credit score tells you where your credit stands in a general but accurate way, whereas the mortgage credit score is customized to risk factors associated with mortgages. 

So why do mortgage lenders have a special credit report?

A lot of the consumers in the United States are registered will all of the major credit reporting agencies. Some are also registered with the less popular reporting agencies as well. All these credit reporting agencies will have the credit files of a consumer. However, the reports themselves do not match completely. The report from each bureau has data that varies from each other. 

Reporting to credit bureaus are not obligated by law; it is voluntary, and creditors are not obligated. Even when they do, they do not need to report to all the three main bureaus. 

Mortgage lenders, however, have a special interest in thoroughly examining all of your credit data. They need as much information on the status of your credit to make the best possible decision. Your mortgage is probably the biggest loan you will take, and before you get it, the lender has to be sure about your creditworthiness. 

This rigorous check is, without a doubt, meant to protect the interests of the lenders. It is also meant to ensure the loan complies with the numerous laws and regulations that are under mortgages. 

With the tri-merge credit report, the mortgage lenders are able to have the full picture on your credit activities and hence make an informed decision. 

Where does the tri-merge credit report come from?

All the major credit bureaus have the tri-merge credit reports that they sell. You can also find the report from the mortgage reporting companies, which is a completely different industry of providers. 

Wherever you get your tri-merge credit report, what you should expect is a report that combines the information found in the three one-bureau credit reports. This ensures there are no duplicate entries. This merge of credit reports is much easier to read and comprehend than three separate reports. 

How do I get a tri-merge credit report?

If you are looking for a tri-merge credit report, then you probably have been having a hard time getting it. The reason is that mortgage credit reporting companies usually only sell these reports to lenders.

Additionally, you can get a copy of the tri-merge credit report when applying for a mortgage. You can request your loan officer to help you with this. The loan officer may not be in a position to share this copy with you. If you, then you can try approaching the company that prepared the tri-merge report for the lender. However, no one is entitled by law to give you a copy of your tri-merge credit report, whether for free or otherwise. 

The only exception that gives you a right to get this report is if your credit application is denied. The law requires you to have access to a copy of the credit report that was used to deny your application. Your FICO scores may not be included in this copy. 

If you get your hands on a copy of the tri-merge credit report, then it should have your FICO score as per each of the credit reporting bureau. 


How to check your tri-merge credit report?

If you want to see your tri-merge credit report, then you need to register for a 3-in-1 credit monitoring service. This service will give you monthly tri-merge reports or quarterly reports according to the type of monitoring you chose. With this service, you will get regular alerts about changes in each of the credit reports. 

This kind of credit monitoring is costly, the costliest type, in fact. But it is perfect for people who are obsessed with their credit score. This comprehensive credit monitoring service tells you everything you need to know about your credit all the time. 

For many consumers, examining one credit report may be all they need. In fact, the three different versions may not be different, after all. The reports are likely to say the same thing. But some people cannot risk the off chance that one of the reports might have an error that can damage their creditworthiness. Or sometimes, one report can have a damaging remark that others do not have. 

It should be noted; there is a way to check all of your three credit reports for free once every year. There is a federal law, The Fair Credit Reporting Act, that regulates credit reporting. The law stipulates that every consumer is legally permitted to have a copy of their credit report and review it once every twelve months. All these three credit reports can be downloaded from annualcreditrepport.com once a year for free.  

This free service that lets you download your report every twelve months as per the law does not have continuous monitoring. This means that if there is an error or changes in your report after you have reviewed it for the year, you will not know about it until next year when you review it again. For this reason, people prefer more comprehensive credit monitoring that gives you more control and visibility throughout the year. 

A tip to help you have some sort of credit monitoring throughout the year is instead of downloading all the three reports at once. You can spread them out over the year. This will give you a rough idea about your status and what is going on. Have a mental time table to know which report will be downloaded at which month.

How much does a tri-merge credit report cost?

As established, credit reports can be ordered separately from each credit bureau. Alternatively, you can request the three-in-one credit report, which has all the three credit reports from the major bureaus. This three-in-one report is obviously more expensive than the single credit report. The tri-merge credit report starts from $39.99, depending on the provider. 


What is in my tri-merge credit report?

A tri-merge credit report does not have any data that is not already there on your regular credit reports from TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. 

As we have mentioned, the law is clear about allowing every consumer to have access to a free credit report from the reporting bureaus every twelve months after verifying your identity. The reports can be downloaded by visiting annualcreditreport.com, the official and authorized site to get the free copies. 

What to expect in your tri-merge credit report

Personal and employment information

Your tri-merge credit report will have your name and the variations of your name that is on record with the credit bureaus. The combination or the order of your names will be your full name, then first name, and last name, alternatively, your first name, your last name, and your middle initial. Sometimes, your credit report may contain some misspellings of your name.

You should also see your date of birth and your previous and current addresses as well.  All this personal information is meant to help the creditors verify your identity when reviewing your credit report. None of the personal information that appears on the report affect your actual credit score whatsoever. 

Credit account history

The other important detail to expect in your tri-merge credit report is your account history. This is a list of all your loan and credit accounts. This is the bulk of the data in your tri-merge credit report. 

Every account has the name of the creditor, the original loan amount or the credit limit, the current balance, the status of the account, and the full payment history.  The credit report will also show you the type of account ownership. That is whether you are the sole borrower, a joint account holder, a co-borrower, or authorized user on the account. 

Sometimes you can have accounts with a third-party agency. These accounts will appear as well, together with the amount you owe and the name of the initial creditor. Debts are usually sent to a collection agency in case you are unable to pay the original creditor. This not only happens to the credit and loan accounts but can happen with any type of account. 

The public records debts

There are debts that are on record with the local, state, or even the federal government. These debts include lawsuits, tax liens, foreclosure, judgments, repossession, and bankruptcy. All these will be recorded in the public records section of the credit report. 

The credit inquiries

Organizations and businesses can review your credit report whenever they want to prescreen you for maybe some product or service. They can also review your report when you apply for some sort of credit from them. They may need to know your credit history and score. The tri-merge report that you get will have a list of all the requests and inquiries made for your credit history. 

The version of your tri-merge that the lender will get will only show the request that resulted from your own credit application. 

Here you may notice that the requests are different from one credit report to another. The reason is that some businesses will only inquire about your credit report from one bureau, while other businesses will inquire from all three. For example, if a business only pulled your credit report from Experian, that inquiry will appear on the Experian credit report but will not show up in the TransUnion report. 

Major damaging information on each credit report

The main thing lenders will quickly see; the major negative and damaging factors on your report that affects your credit scores according to each credit bureau. These major negative factors include recent delinquencies, serious delinquencies, high balances, number of new accounts, and too many recent inquiries. These are the information that can damage your credit scores and make it harder for you to be approved for loans. 


Knowing what the creditors and lenders see

Generally, your lenders and creditors will look at two things to determine your creditworthiness. These are your FICO credit score and the tri-merge credit report. 

If you can get these two reports, then you will have a good idea of what creditors and lenders look at when considering you for a loan. Keep in mind that knowing with certainty which lender or creditor uses which method of determining your creditworthiness is impossible. About 90% of lenders, however, lean towards the FICO credit score, while 10% use other sources. They may also use VantageScore or have their own model of scoring. And most of the time, they will not tell you their source.

The basic thing is if your FICO is good, then chances are you are set. At the end of it all, good credit is the most important factor they are considering. Naturally, if you improve one credit score, the rest should also improve. And if one credit score is free of damaging information and very clean, then the rest should be the same way as well.  The only concern is that one report has an error that other reports do not have.


Errors in the tri-merge credit report

Every consumer has the right to a fair and accurate credit report. If you notice any sort of error on your tri-merge credit report, then you are supposed to dispute the error with the specific credit bureau that is reflecting it. The bureau will conduct an investigation with the information furnisher and make the necessary amendments to your report based on what they find out after the investigation. 

Any errors on your credit report should be dealt with before making any important loan or credit card applications. This will improve the chances of your application being approved. Error-free credit reports will also ensure you are qualified for the best possible credit terms.  If you do not dispute credit report errors, then they will remain on your report for seven years. 

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