What Should I Do if I Don’t Recognize a Creditor on My Credit Report?

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Experian, TransUnion and Equifax now offer all U.S. consumers free weekly credit reports through AnnualCreditReport.com.

Dear Experian,

I have two items on my credit report that I am not familiar with. I do not know what these entries are for. What should I do?


Dear JYA,

There are two reasons you might not recognize an account.

  1. Creditors may report to Experian under a name that is different than the name you know them by. They may use an abbreviated form of their name, or they may report under the name of the bank used to finance your account, rather than the store name or the company name that appears on your card.
  2. The account could be the result of credit fraud. Your identity may have been stolen and used to open credit account in your name. If so, you'll likely see other inconsistencies in your credit history, like names, addresses or Social Security numbers you don't recognize.

Steps to Take if There Is a Creditor You Do Not Recognize on Your Report

Here are some steps you can take if you see an account on your report that you do not recognize:
The first thing you should do is get a copy of your personal credit report directly from Experian. You can get a free copy at www.annualcreditreport.com once per week. The report will provide contact information including a toll-free telephone number, mailing address and website. Getting a fresh copy of your personal report may help clarify the issue simply because it is easier to read and understand, and has current information.

  • Review the details of the account information provided. Look at the open date of the account, the credit limit or original amount of the loan, and the last balance reported. The information may help jog your memory and determine whether the account is actually yours.
  • Contact the creditor listed on the credit report and request more information. The creditor should be able to provide you with further details about the account and help you determine whether the account is one that belongs to you, is the result of identity theft, or was simply reported in error.
  • Add a security alert. If you determine that the account does not belong to you, then the information can be disputed. If you think it is fraudulent, be sure to mention on the disputed item that you believe the account may be related to identity theft. In addition to disputing the account as fraud, Experian will add a security alert to your credit report that will notify creditors that your information may have been compromised.

    Steps to Take if There Is an Inquiry You Do Not Recognize on Your Report

    If the item you do not recognize is an inquiry rather than an account, the steps to take are similar. First, keep in mind that there are two separate types of inquiries: "soft inquiries" and "hard inquiries."

    Soft inquiries are usually initiated by others, like companies making promotional offers of credit or your lender conducting periodic reviews of your existing credit accounts. Soft inquiries also occur when you check your own credit report or when you use credit monitoring services from companies like Experian. These inquiries do not impact your credit scores.

    Hard inquiries represent applications you have made for credit or other services. Because they can affect lending decisions and credit scores, they can be a factor in your credit scores. If you see a hard inquiry you do not recognize, you should do the following:

    • Pay attention to the date of the request. As with your credit accounts, inquiries may be listed under a business name that is different than the one you know the company by. And, if you have applied for a mortgage loan or a car loan, you may notice multiple inquiries listed on your report on or near the same date. This happens when your application is sent to several different lenders in order to get you the best rates and terms. Most credit scoring companies count multiple inquiries made for the same purpose within a short period of time as one, so shopping around for the best loan has little or no effect on your credit scores.
    • Contact the listed company directly. If you are still unsure, you should contact the company directly. They should be able to provide you with further information on why they requested a copy of your credit report. If they determine that the inquiry was made in error, they can notify Experian to have it removed.
    • Add a security alert if you believe the inquiry was the result of fraud. If you think the inquiry was made as a result of identity theft, you should add a security alert to your credit report and dispute the inquiry as fraud. You should also notify the company that you believe the inquiry is fraudulent.

    Thanks for asking,
    The "Ask Experian" Team