A common credit reporting error happens when information belonging to a different person gets mixed into your credit file—and ultimately, your credit reports. Negative payment information, public record information not pertaining to you, or accounts that you never opened can appear in your credit history and impact your ability to obtain new credit. This error is commonly known as a “mixed file.”
There are several reasons why other people’s information can become mixed into your reports. One common scenario is when you have a similar name to another person in a credit agency’s system, like a sibling, parent, or grandparent. If your name is David Smith and you have a brother named Daniel Smith, the credit agency can easily mix his information into your file. The risk of mixed information is also increased if both individuals have similar birthdays or addresses. Another common way information can get mixed up is if a bank reports information about a person under a different person’s name. Finally, information in your credit report that you do not recognize could be the result of fraud or identity theft.
Mixed file problems are serious and very difficult errors to correct. As a consumer, it is important to stay proactive in checking your credit reports for any information that you do not recognize. If you ever see unfamiliar credit information, you should notify the bank and credit reporting agencies as soon as you can. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), the credit agencies are required to investigate any item of information that you dispute to them and delete or modify anything they find to be inaccurate.
A dispute may not solve every problem. The credit agencies can make mistakes and fail to correct their errors, or the bank that provided the information can incorrectly verify the false information. If you dispute information that you do not recognize and it is not fixed, you should consider speaking to an attorney about your rights under the FCRA.
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