Mixed Credit Files Can Lead to Inaccurate Credit Reports
There are many reasons why having good credit—or at least keeping your credit as positive as possible—is a good thing. It can be difficult enough keeping our credit healthy even in the best of circumstances. But when something shows up on our credit that isn’t ours, or that we don’t recognize, it can be extraordinarily frustrating.
Inaccurate Items on a Credit Report
When we see something we don’t recognize as ours on our credit, the first thing we may think happened is ID theft—someone stole our personal information and charged something in our name. ID theft is everywhere and can happen to anyone, and it certainly is something you should consider if something pops up on your credit that doesn’t look familiar.
But there is another way that something can show up on your credit report that isn’t yours: a simple error by the companies that handle or report your credit.
Despite the fact that pretty much every adult in the country has a credit score, there are really only three major companies that compile and keep records of your credit history: Equifax, Experian and Transunion. Those three credit reporting agencies (CRAs) have to handle a lot of volume, and they do make mistakes.
How Mistakes Happen
When a credit mark is reported to the CRAs by a creditor—say, for example, a car loan company reporting that you took out a new loan, or a credit card company reporting you closed an account, or a student loan company reporting a late payment—the CRA has to make sure that what is given to them is put on the right person’s report.
But often, the CRAs don’t check very thoroughly to make sure that happens. A credit mark that belongs to one “Juan Gonzalez” may end up on a different “Juan Gonzalez’” credit. A mark belonging to “Barbra Thompson” can end up on “Barbara Tompson’s” credit report. Jeff Smith’s credit line can end up on “Jeff Smith Jr.’s” credit. Something that belongs to “Mary Sullivan” can end up on the report of “Maryanne Sullinger”.
This happens because CRAs often don’t cross reference Social Security numbers, addresses, or other identifying marks, and creditors often don’t transmit complete information to the CRAs.
Sometimes, a clerical error, like typing the wrong number in a Social Security number, can lead to false information on credit reports.
Public information, like lawsuits, judgements, or tax liens, may be transmitted to the CRAs with minimal identifying information at all.
Mixed and Merged Files
The result is what of all this is known as a “mixed” or “merged” credit file—as the name implies, credit information of one person has been mixed up with another.
There are ways that you can correct information on a credit report, which we will discuss in another post. For now, just be aware that even with no identity theft, it is still possible for something to end up on your credit report that is not yours.
If you see something on your credit report that isn’t yours, contact Jacobs Legal in Miami today to discuss if you’re entitled to recover damages under federal laws that are designed to make sure your credit reports are accurate.