A four-part series from the Columbus Dispatch called “Credit Scars” kicked off this week, examining the damage done when credit reporting agencies blend two credit reports together. The year-long investigation by the paper uncovered thousands of examples of credit reports being blended together. A few examples include a woman whose credit report was mixed with her daughter’s and another woman with a common name who actually had her credit report blended with multiple women by the same name.
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So, who is likely to fall victim to credit report errors and how do multiple consumers’ credit reports get blended together?
The Dispatch examined the records of almost 1,300 individuals who complained to the FTC over the course of 2 and 1/2 years that their credit report had errors because it had been blended with another report. The findings showed that family members are far and away the most likely to have their credit files mixed. Second to direct family members are strangers, followed closely by strangers with the same name and then strangers with a similar name.
Interestingly, consumers also reported having their credit files mixed with their patients, roommates and neighbors, although the number of incidents for these complaints are very small.
The easiest way to make sure your credit report hasn’t been blended with another consumer’s file is to check your credit report regularly. Credit experts recommend checking your report once every six to 12 months.
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Image: DrBacchus, via Flickr