Credit Challenges When You Share a Name

Dear Experian,

I am writing from an employee assistance program company. We help employees find answers and resources to deal with various personal problems. An employee from one of our client companies has the same name as his father. The son and father are having their credit information intermixed. How can they get this corrected, and is there anything they can do to help prevent this from happening in the future?


Dear IMB,

The most common cause of mixed credit files is a father-son relationship in which the father and son share the same name but don't always use a generational title, such as junior or senior.

Matching names, particularly when the generation is not provided, can be very difficult. This is especially true when the father and son share the same address. In some instances, even when the birthdate is provided with the account identification, they even share a similar birth month and day. When there is not enough information to clearly differentiate between the individuals, account information can get added to the incorrect credit history, resulting in a mixed credit file.

The father and son both should request copies of their personal credit histories and follow the instructions for disputing information. The files will then be "flagged" to help prevent the problem from recurring in the future.

The most important thing that anyone can do to prevent a mixed file situation is to be consistent and thorough in providing identifying information. I recommend using your full, given name as it appears on your birth certificate, even if you don't like it. If your name includes a generation, always use it, even when you are the senior.

If you don't use your full given name, always use the same nickname. For instance, if your name is Robert David Smith, but you prefer Bob, always use Bob Smith when you apply for credit. Don't use Robert on one application, Bob on a second, David on a third and Dave on yet another.

Also provide all of the identifying information asked for on your application, including your complete address, previous addresses, birth date, and Social Security number. Experian does not match to a single piece of information. Instead, it matches all of the information you provide with the identifying information it has in its credit reporting system.

The more pieces of identifying information that can be matched, the less likely a problem with mixed information will occur.

Thanks for asking.
The "Ask Experian" team