The information contained in your credit report should be fair and accurate. After all, it determines your credit score and helps lenders, creditors, and other companies decide whether to do business with you.
Unfortunately, credit report inaccuracies are extremely common. In 2013, the FTC reported that one in five Americans had discovered an inaccuracy on their credit report – and that’s not counting the ones that went unnoticed.
It’s essential to monitor your credit report and ensure it represents you fairly. Here are six common credit report inaccuracies to watch out for.
1. Mistaken Identity
Inaccurate information can land on your credit report as a result of mistaken identity, which results in a “mixed credit file.” This can occur when someone else has the same or similar name or a street address is entered incorrectly. Either way, if information that belongs to someone else is landing on your report, it can affect your credit.
The risk of mixed files increases when two people with the same name share or shared an address – such as a father and son named Thomas Smith, Sr. and Thomas Smith, Jr. Make sure the information on your credit report is actually yours, and not someone else’s.
2. Accounts You Don’t Own
It’s impossible for the major credit bureaus to vet all the data they receive. Accounts you never opened and loans you never took out can end up on your credit report. Make sure you actually do business with all the companies reporting information about you.
3. Closed Accounts Showing as Open
No matter the reason an account is closed, the creditor should report that closing to the credit bureau. This means that closed credit cards, loans, and other accounts should show as closed on your credit report. You should verify that the open accounts on your credit report are actually still open.
4. Current Accounts Showing as Late or Delinquent
Late or delinquent accounts can occur when you fall behind on payments. But sometimes, accounts are reported late or delinquent in error. Make sure your accounts in good standing are shown as current and don’t indicate you have trouble paying your bills.
5. Duplicate Entries
Sometimes, the same account may appear on your credit report multiple times – perhaps with different names or account numbers. A single account should only appear on your credit report once.
6. Balance Inaccuracies
Look out for accounts that show you as owing an incorrect amount, or with incorrect credit limits. These inaccuracies can affect your debt utilization ratio and potentially drag down your credit score.
Having an accurate credit report is important. Inaccurate information could be a sign of human error or even identity theft. It’s a good idea to check your credit report at least once a year. For more up-to-date reporting, identity theft and credit monitoring services can alert you as soon as something changes on your credit report, and help you dispute incorrect information with the credit bureaus.