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Reviewing your credit report can be like a walk down memory lane if you come across an old address. But is its presence on your current credit report going to cause a problem or affect your credit score?
Personal identifying information like names and addresses don't affect your credit score in any way, so an old address on your credit report won't have a direct impact on your ability to secure new credit. When that information is incorrect, however, you can ask to have it removed from your credit report by contacting the appropriate creditor or submitting a credit report dispute. Here's a quick rundown.
Does Address Information Affect Your Credit Score?
In addition to information credit scoring models use to calculate your credit score, your credit report includes personal identifying information such as your name, aliases and addresses that are used to help verify your identity and match you to your credit history. Experian uses this identifying information to differentiate your credit history from the other 220 million consumers with credit files, some of whom may have the same name as you.
Personal information like this isn't used to calculate your score. Credit scoring models only look at debt-related information, including payment history, amount of debt, length of credit history, types of accounts and recent applications for credit to determine your credit score. As long as personal information including your current and past addresses is accurate, you shouldn't worry about it.
The addresses that appear on your credit report have been reported to the credit bureaus by current or past creditors you've done business with. Past addresses you've used to receive bills in the past are likely to show up on your credit report. Old addresses don't need to be removed or disputed just because they're outdated; they're actually left there on purpose and may be used for identity verification purposes.
How to Update Information on Your Credit Report
If you find an incorrect address—past or present—on your credit report from one of the three credit reporting agencies (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax), you can contact the agency that maintains the data to see which creditor reported it, or you may consider filing a dispute with the bureau. You always want the information in your credit report to be accurate. In some cases, an incorrect address is a sign of identity theft (more on that in a moment).
If your current address is not appearing on your credit report, notify your creditors. They'll update your address with Experian and the other credit reporting agencies when they update your account. Regardless of its presence on your credit report, it's best to make sure your creditors have an up-to-date address on record in case they need to correspond with you. If you don't have any open credit accounts right now, you can contact Experian directly to update your mailing address.
When Can Inaccurate Information Indicate Identity Theft?
Finding information you believe to be inaccurate on your credit report is not proof positive of identity theft. In some cases, however, unfamiliar information on your credit report can be a sign of fraudulent activity.
If you find an address you don't recognize on your credit report, take the time to read through the entire report for any additional signs of trouble. In particular, be on the lookout for unfamiliar information:
- Accounts you didn't open
- Balances that are higher than expected
- Unpaid accounts
- Late payments you weren't notified of
Identity theft takes many forms. If you suspect you've been a victim of identity theft, it's important to take action quickly in order to minimize additional harm. Review your financial accounts for unauthorized transactions and contact the creditors reporting the potentially fraudulent information. You can also file a report with the FTC and local law enforcement.
It could also be helpful to file a fraud alert that will ask potential creditors to verify your identity before issuing new accounts in your name. If you place a fraud alert with one of the three credit reporting agencies, an alert will be triggered with the other two. You can explore the Experian Fraud Center and the FTC's IdentityTheft.gov website for more information and next steps.
Catch Inaccuracies Sooner Than Later
Because identity theft is a growing problem—and keeping tabs on your credit is a wise practice in any case—it's a good idea to check your credit report and score at each of the three credit reporting agencies at least once a year through AnnualCreditReport.com. You can also monitor your Experian credit score and report continuously for free using Experian Credit Monitoring.