Inaccuracies in Reporting

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Through April 20, 2022, Experian, TransUnion and Equifax will offer all U.S. consumers free weekly credit reports through AnnualCreditReport.com to help you protect your financial health during the sudden and unprecedented hardship caused by COVID-19.

How do credit report errors happen?

Credit report errors can happen when data entry errors are made by a creditor who supplies account information to a nationwide consumer credit reporting company. They can also happen when a person is a victim of identity theft or when people have common names, and similar Social Security Numbers, birth dates, or addresses.

How can I prevent errors on my credit report?

Monitoring your credit report regularly is the single best way to spot errors. You can review your credit report from Equifax, Experian and TransUnion for free once every 12 months through https://www.annualcreditreport.com and you can dispute any inaccuracies for free.

When applying for credit, always provide as much personal identification information as possible on the credit application. If you prefer to go by a nickname, be sure to stay consistent, but be aware that the more name variations in your credit report, the more likely errors can happen.

Make sure your creditors have current and complete address information for you.

Examine your bills carefully to make sure that the charges are yours and that balances are correctly shown.

Can companies that promise to clean up my credit report really do that?

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) say that you should be wary of companies that claim they can repair your credit. These companies are commonly called credit clinics. They don't do anything for you that you can't do on your own for free.

Beware of organizations that offer to create a new identity and credit report for you. The FTC, CFPB, and state attorneys general have filed legal actions against some of these organizations. The FTC, CFPB, and others warn that the following claims or actions signal that you may be dealing with a credit clinic:

  • The company asks for money up front and charges you before they've performed their services.
  • The company guarantees to remove late payments, bankruptcies, or similar information from a credit report.
  • The company charges a lot of money to repair credit.
  • The company asks you to write to the credit reporting company to verify the same credit account information in the file, over and over, even after the information has been determined to be correct.
  • The company doesn't want to or can't provide a business address.
  • The company pushes you to decide to engage them right away.

For additional helpful information about credit clinics, please visit the CFPB's website or the FTC's website.

What is a mixed file?

A mixed file is when the credit files of two or more people are unintentionally combined in a credit reporting company's database. This can result in errors in name, phone, address and/or credit information. It may happen to people who have common names or similar Social Security Numbers, birth dates, or addresses.

What can I do if I believe that I have a mixed file?

If you believe your information has been mixed with someone else's, you should:

  • Submit a dispute with all of the credit reporting companies that have incorrect information on your credit report
  • Identify the information that doesn't belong to you. This may include addresses, other identification information, and accounts
  • Make sure your identification information is complete and includes:

    • Your full name, including middle name and suffix, such as Jr., Sr., II, III
    • Date of birth
    • Social Security Number
    • Complete address, including apartment number if applicable
  • If you think you know who the incorrect information belongs to, such as a relative, let the credit reporting companies know as that may help them resolve your dispute faster
  • Check your credit report for inaccuracies at least annually

The purpose of this question submission tool is to provide general education on credit reporting. The Ask Experian team cannot respond to each question individually. However, if your question is of interest to a wide audience of consumers, the Experian team may include it in a future post and may also share responses in its social media outreach. If you have a question, others likely have the same question, too. By sharing your questions and our answers, we can help others as well.

Personal credit report disputes cannot be submitted through Ask Experian. To dispute information in your personal credit report, simply follow the instructions provided with it. Your personal credit report includes appropriate contact information including a website address, toll-free telephone number and mailing address.

To submit a dispute online visit Experian's Dispute Center. If you have a current copy of your personal credit report, simply enter the report number where indicated, and follow the instructions provided. If you do not have a current personal report, Experian will provide a free copy when you submit the information requested. Additionally, you may obtain a free copy of your report once a week through April 2022 at AnnualCreditReport.