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Help! I Can’t Get Someone Else’s Mistakes Off My Credit Report

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We recently received this reader question:

“I have several negative items on my credit report, including two charge-offs and a collection that I know are not mine and the creditors refuse to remove them. The name that was used isn’t my last name and the address listed is in another state that I have never lived in. They fail to see it!  I’ve resorted to working with a credit repair company to have the items disputed. What else can I do?”

By law, creditors cannot arbitrarily report inaccurate information in your credit reports, and you have the right to dispute the information under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Before even considering hiring a credit repair company to file a dispute, make sure you fully understand what they do and how they work.

Disputing Credit Report Errors

If you have inaccurate negative information in your credit reports, it’s best to include as much documentation as possible to help the credit reporting agencies with the investigation process.

When you file a dispute with the credit reporting agencies they’re required to open an investigation and have 30 days to resolve the dispute. As part of the investigation process, they’ll contact the creditor or company that’s currently reporting the information in your credit report. If the creditor or entity reporting the information proves or confirms that the debt belongs to you, essentially validating the debt, the account will remain on your credit report. If the investigation concludes that the information is inaccurate, the credit reporting agency must either remove the account altogether or update the account information so that it’s being reported accurately.

In cases where you’re hitting a brick wall with the credit reporting agencies (and the items are inaccurate or do not belong to you), another option is to file a complaint directly with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The CFPB began overseeing the credit reporting agencies in July of 2012, and started accepting consumer complaints in October of last year. To file a complaint with the CFPB, visit its complaint center, choose credit reporting and then follow the prompts.

If you’re still not getting anywhere, the last option would be to consult with a consumer law attorney. If the creditors and collectors are violating any laws under the Fair Credit Reporting Act or the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, you may have a case against them. A consumer law attorney would be able to tell you whether you have a strong case and advise you accordingly. If you do have a strong case, many attorneys will work with you on a contingency basis. To find a consumer law attorney in your area, visit the National Association of Consumer Advocates website.

Identity Theft Cases

Having explained all of this, if the original accounts do not belong to you (not just the negative information), it could be a clear sign of identity theft. In that case, you wouldn’t treat it as a traditional credit report dispute. Instead, you’d need to contact the credit reporting agencies to notify them that you’ve been a victim of identity theft and have a fraud alert placed on your credit file. You only need to contact one of the credit reporting agencies for the fraud alert to be placed on all three of your reports.

Once you’ve notified the credit reporting agencies, you’ll then need to contact the Federal Trade Commission to file a victim’s complaint and create an identity theft affidavit documenting. You’ll also need to file a police report with your local law enforcement office to fully document the theft.

It’s a good idea, whether or not you’re an identity theft victim, to monitor your credit. Any sudden changes in your credit score can signal an error on your credit report or possible identity theft. You can do that through a paid service or for free with the Credit Report Card, which updates your credit scores monthly.

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  • Brittany

    I am currently stuck in a similar situation. My names seems to be very common, there is even a girl who lives in the same town that I do with the exact same first name and last name! But there is another girl with the same name as me who lives about 50 miles north of where I live and her credit must be somehow linked to mine. I am at a loss and am not sure what to do about it. I have disputed things from my report several times and have explained the credit bureaus (the ones that I could actually reach on the phone) but they so not seem to be concerned. I am at a loss and am not sure what to do. Even her address and telephone number has been on my credit report. Help! Please!

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      Brittany – hopefully you been keeping good documentation of any problems this is cause for you. If you have copies your credit reports showing the wrong information, your dispute letters, and/ or any letters rejecting for credit that would be helpful. Regardless though, it sounds like it is time for you to talk with a consumer law attorney. You may have a case for credit damage. If you are ready to go that route you can file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Be as specific as you can your complaint.

  • Brittany

    Thank you SO much for the response, it is greatly appreciated!! I was really unsure of what to do regarding this situation. Thanks to your time and consideration, I am feeling a lot better!! I do have copies of my credit reports with the other girls in information on it. I will be looking into and acting on the suggestions that you gave me. Thanks again and take care!

  • Harry

    This may sound stupid but im in a bit of a bind here. i kind of grew up on my own and never learned anything about my credit until really recently i got my first credit report ever a week ago and im almost 23 years old. looking at my reports i know my stuff was stolen cause it says i have credit cards in florida and places i have never been in my life. i just moved out of california a year or so ago and that is the first time i have ever left the west coast i now live border to california in arizona. but i know i couldnt have been the one doing these things cause i have never been in these states in my life. im getting kind of scared and feel like ill never have good credit due to someone elses mistakes and i dont even know where to start.

  • anon

    I have a similar but different situation. I was driving a friends car and incurred parking violation, which went unpaid ams ended up on the friends credit. There was no mal intent so I don’t think it constitutes as identity theft or fraud but I’d like to claim responsibility for the item and have it erased from my friends. How can I do that?

    • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

      Anon —
      Check your email.

  • SJH

    I believe my ex-husband must have used my name and SSN to obtain loans without my consent after we seperated. His birthday and not mine is now on my credit report. Addresses I have never lived at are there. There are also loans I never signed on there. How do I get this straightened out?

  • Mark

    I have a foreclosure on my credit report and the reporting agencies have put my grandson on the report as being involved
    He was only 15 at the time and not on any of the paperwork. How can I get him off the report as it’s screwing his credit up?

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