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Most Common Credit Report Errors

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In 2004, the U.S. PIRG did a survey of consumer credit report errors and discovered one in four reports had “serious errors” that could result in denial of credit. 54% contained incorrect personal demographic information. 22% had the same mortgage or loan listed twice. And 79% of the reports surveyed had a mistake.

You read that correctly, 79% of credit reports had an error of some kind on it. That’s absolutely stunning.

When I first read those statistics, I didn’t believe it but having reviewed my credit report many times since then, I’ve discovered my fair share of errors. I’ve discovered someone else’s credit card listed on my report, I’ve found incorrect demographic information, and the worst was seeing that I had a second Social Security Number listed on my account! That’s why it’s so important to review your credit report annually.

When you do, here are the very common errors you should look for:

Erroneous Accounts

When you review the accounts listed, be sure to double check that each one is actually yours. I discovered an erroneous account the very first time I looked at my credit report. The reports share little about the account itself (just the financial institution, last four digits of the account, and some activity data that is useless for my purposes) but fortunately they removed it once I disputed it.

The account would’ve improved my credit score because it was old and lengthened by credit usage history. That, however, is not a reason to keep it. It’s not accurate because it’s not mine, the account could go delinquent at any time, and the sooner you fix a mistake, the easier it is to resolve.

You should also make sure all of your accounts are listed. It’s easier to see an error than it is to catch an omission, so double check that each of your accounts is listed. You want every “account in good standing” you’re entitled.

Inaccurate Account Information

Double check that the information listed for each account is accurate because you might see incorrect or outdated information. For example, you want the credit limit to be accurate since credit utilization is an important factor in your FICO credit score. Other important account details to double check include the date you opened the account (length of credit is important) as well as the type of account (having different types of credit types is good).

Outdated Information

The credit bureaus rely on companies to report your information but there isn’t a mechanism to report when something no longer applies. If you move, you may discover that the credit bureaus still have your old address if your creditors were lazy in reporting the update of information. If a loan is sold from one company to another, the original company may neglect to report that the account has been transfered to another owner or servicer. There are numerous similar scenarios in which things can be listed twice or old data never being updated. Unfortunately, it falls on you to catch and correct it.

Collections & Charge-Offs

Having an incorrect collection or charge-off listed on your account may not be common but I bring it up because they can be devastating on your credit. Your credit score is supposed to be a measurement of how likely you will default on a debt, known as default risk. As you can imagine, defaulting on a debt in the first place is a pretty big indicator that you’re likely to default on another one… which is why making sure this is correct is absolutely paramount. Collections and charge-offs can be incorrectly attributed to you or, in the event you have one, be dated incorrectly. Since they fall off after seven years, it’s benefits you to have the date recorded accurately.

Finally, there’s my case of an erroneous social security number. You’d think they’d have some error checking built in because one person should not have two Social Security Numbers, but apparently they don’t. A few years ago I discovered I my credit report listed two nearly identical Social Security Numbers (in one, a six was replaced by a zero). I don’t know how common that is but it happened to me, so it could happen to you.

Have you seen some crazy credit report errors you want to share with us? Or maybe something mundane but surprising?

{ 17 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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17 Responses to “Most Common Credit Report Errors”

  1. Strebkr says:

    We refinanced a few years back and everything went smoothly. Then when we went to buy a new house we had a little issue. It seems that the balance on the old loan went down to 0 and we received our “satisfaction of mortgage” The problem is that there was an error in their system and it started marking our account as not paid on the 1st of each month after we refinanced. So in the end we had 9 months of our credit saying we didn’t pay our 0 balance mortgage. It took a few letters and us showing them the “satisfaction of mortgage” for the new bank to sign off on our new loan for the new house, but it was very annoying.

  2. cubiclegeoff says:

    I’ve only seen one error on my wife’s report that had a store credit under her name that she didn’t know anything about. That was an easy enough fix. I should take a look since I haven’t for a while just to be sure they’re still ok though.

  3. Shirley says:

    In 1952 my parents started banking with B of A. In 2002 they added me as an eligible signer, but not a co-owner. In 2008, after they were both deceased and the account was closed, my credit report showed the account as mine, their address as my residence, etc. Of course it also showed me living at my own residence at the same time for my own accounts. I guess I was living a double life!

  4. Hunter says:

    I recently attended a conference where the Virginia Attorney General’s Office discussed identity theft and resulting credit issues. Ironically some identity thieves are paying their credit so well that it improves the credit score of the person whose identit they have assumed. The victim often does not want to have their credit report corrected.

  5. mannymacho says:

    It’s pretty ridiculous that 79 percent of the reports had errors, even minor ones. I think that annual credit reviews should be mandatory.

    • skylog says:

      i agree with this. that number is simply insane. while i agree with you, i look at it from the other side. how crazy is it that these reports are so important, yet, the firms that collect the data seemingly do not get the information correct? i am not placing all the blame on them, but it would seem some reform should be looked into with regard to how they collect their data.

  6. Caitlin says:

    The first time I checked my credit report, it had some big errors. I had someone else’s $25k credit card on it! o_0 I followed the procedure to have it removed, and it’s gone now so I can breath a sigh of relief. Kinda scary!

  7. RyanLoos says:

    When I pulled my wife’s credit report it had a previous address listed as my parents house (her mother and father in law) when she was 18. I would have loved to have meet her at 18 when she supposedly moved in with my parents and myself. It could have saved a few years of dating to get her to marry me!

  8. billsnider says:

    I want to add two wrinkles to credit errors. I have recently rolled some IRA accounts over. I was dealing with three different banks. The clerks there filled the forms incorrectly each time. I did one last month. I read and reread what they did. the clerk was annoyed with me. guess what. She did it wrong!

    A few years back i also was bothered by the interest that was posted on my account. I was getting less that I calculated. At first the bank told me I was wrong. Then the shock set in. They called me back after some investigation and told me there was a programming error. They had to correct almost two weeks of newly opened accounts.

    Bill Snider

  9. poscogrubb says:

    Years ago during college I tried to open a CD under a promotion for people under age 25. The bank refused because information in my credit report indicated I was much older. It turns out that my credit report erroneously had my father’s birthday. It was corrected, but I STILL get mailings from AARP reminding me of my potential Medicare benefits even though I haven’t even hit 40 years.

  10. Amy Saves says:

    I had an incorrect collections claim on my credit report that affected one of my credit cards. what a pain! I called the bureau immediately and had it removed.

    Why are collection agencies so quick to make you look bad? They should check the facts before reporting.

  11. NewPerspective says:

    Both my wife’s report and mine had numerous errors that we gradually corrected over a couple years. In fact, my wife couldn’t even SEE one of her credit reports for a couple years because one of the “verification” questions were wrong when you first attempt to access the report online. Sheesh!

  12. The craziest for me was a 60 cents due from a doctor’s office. But, didn’t take long to resolve as it was actually a case of over paying 60 cents. + had become -.

  13. hgstern says:

    David Williams presents this week’s round-up of risky posts – and your post is in it:

    http://www.healthbusinessblog.com/?p=4546

    Please let your readers know.

  14. Geri says:

    Maddening, the whole thing. Just received my free report as well as my husbands. They have him living at both his boss’s house..and my parents house. As well, someone apparently opened an account for electric utility in his name..and haven’t paid their bill in 6 months. Also because he is an authorized buyer at his company, the company’s credit is being reflected on his report. (Two of the accounts for over $25k, but at least they’re paid on time, lol) Because of the address error, we weren’t able to access the free report directly from the website (as address question was two of the verification questions!). Had to send for it by snail mail. :::sigh::::

  15. Julia says:

    Yep! Sure have a good one! I guess they don’t think there’s more than ONE of me on the earth. Therefore, I have one name, two completely different SSN’s, and two plus addresses! “We” apparently have the same DOB (or close to it as one is 1973 and one is 1963), but that could be a typo to have us as one. The loan guy told me all of this.

    Now I have to fight it all off and am waiting for a copy of my report. I found all this out out when I tried to finance something recently to help build my credit. I have always used mostly cash and rarely even a cheque’. I didn’t even have a SSN until 2010, in Canada we use an SIN of 9 numbers. Now I’m stuck waiting for a fix because of some idiots that assume I can be two people. I guess since my card is new the loan guy told me the credit people combined it with an older one (???) No sense to me. Unbelievable.

    I think I know who did this – a collector who is being investigated by the police in TX (as of 5/7/12) for making a threat of physical violence to MY family for a debt my BOSS has (and is paying on)!!! I was the secretary, so he apparently thinks it’s my fault.
    There are at least TWO people with my last name (locale?), one other one with the same also, but the last letter missing – still similar. This fraudulent collector apparently thought he could combine my credit with whoever he wants to. I wonder who is new on my report today? He needs to be arrested – and he soon will be the police said. I know the Mounties would be on this quickly back home. I hope the credit folks don’t take a year to fix my report.

  16. KIM says:

    I found various names in my credit report. It’s been 22 years since I was married to husband number one and twenty one years since any and all accounts with his last name were paid off and closed. I haven’t used that name or even my maiden What a mess! where do I start? I’m a lot overwhelmed by this finding. I once had credit numbers of 750. now its 620. What do I do to secure my personal info so these things don’t continue to happen. Is it old friends, online transactions,just how does it happen? I’m leary too of check printing companies who get your account numbers and name and wipe out your account or create new checks and run amuck. This happened to a friend who lost 15k out of a saving account recently. It’s ashame we live in such a world where people are so scandalous.


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