Credit scores play a vital role in consumers’ lives, enabling them to purchase mortgages, obtain credit cards, and pay lower interest rates. A poor credit score can interfere with these and other important financial aspects of life. But what happens if a bad credit score is actually a mistake based on erroneous data?
One potential cause of an inaccurate credit score is a mixed file error. This occurs when the information of two (or more) consumers is intermingled inappropriately and used to evaluate one customer’s credit. Mixed file errors can brand consumers with a credit score they don’t deserve, resulting in denied credit, disqualified loans, and a host of other potential problems.
If you suspect you may be a victim of a credit rating error, such as mixed files, we may be able to help. A Morgan & Morgan attorney can investigate and dispute incorrect information in your credit report, and possibly help recover damages if negligence played a role in the error or its subsequent investigation.
To find out more, complete our free, no-risk case evaluation form and one of our lawyers will be in touch.
What Is a Mixed File Error?
The basic definition of a mixed file error is when the credit information of two or more parties is mistakenly combined with one person’s credit report. This can occur either at the credit rating agency or by the financial institutions reporting to them, possibly ruining consumers’ financial reputations.
Unfortunately, mixed file errors are not isolated incidents. A Marketwatch investigation about a mixed file victim reported that these errors could occur for 1% to 2% of all people with credit reports, possibly affecting 2 million consumers or more nationwide.
How Do Mixed File Errors Occur?
Mixed file errors on credit reports are usually the result of mixing information for people with similar physical locations or personal data. Some specific instances have included parties such as:
- Two or more different family members
- People with similar Social Security numbers
- People who are not connected, but have the same last name and a similar first name
- People who live in the same zip code and have similar names
Mixed File Victims Have Rights
Victims of mixed file errors are protected by the Fair Credit Report Act (FCRA). The FCRA was established in 1970 for three distinct purposes: to make credit systems more efficient, to improve the accuracy of the information in credit reports, and to prevent the misuse of consumer information.
Anyone who suspects that they may be the victim of erroneous credit reports has the right to dispute the finding and have their complaint reviewed in a timely manner. However, many who file complaints end up encountering difficult bureaucracies and slow turnaround times.
If this has happened to you, an experienced lawyer can help. An attorney can pressure credit reporting agencies into completing investigations and can pursue legal action if inquiries aren’t completed within 30 days of filing.
What Should I Do if I Think I’m a Victim?
If you think your credit report contains errors due to mixed files, there are a number of steps you can take, including:
- Get copies of your credit report: You are entitled to receive one free copy of your credit report per year from each of the three major credit agencies. Check each report carefully for errors, fraudulent charges, and bogus accounts. To receive, visit www.annualcreditreport.com or contact the agencies directly:
- Hire an attorney: An experienced lawyer can not only help you navigate the complex laws and procedures associated with correcting credit report errors but can also research and file a lawsuit if your FCRA rights are violated.
- Dispute errors in writing: Notify all three credit agencies about which information you believe is inaccurate. Mail a certified letter to each one, including details such as:
- Why you are disputing the information
- Documents supporting your position
- A request to remove the erroneous information from your credit report
- Track the investigation: The FCRA states that credit agencies must investigate serious disputes involving credit reports within 30 days of receiving the request. They are also obligated to send all necessary inquiries to the financial institutions that reported the erroneous information, which must also investigate, review, and report the results. If either party takes more than 30 days to respond, they may be in violation of FCRA rules.
- Review the results: The agencies you contact must give you the results of their investigations and provide an updated copy of your credit report if changes are made. Also, the credit reporting agencies involved must send corrections to anyone who received a copy of your credit report if you request them to do so, including any party that received a copy within the past two years.
Contact Morgan & Morgan
Correcting mixed file or other credit report errors can be a long and difficult process. If you find yourself running into roadblocks from credit agencies or the financial institutions that incorrectly reported your information, don’t give up. We can help.
Morgan & Morgan has a team of over 700 attorneys and 3,000 support staff, along with over 30 years of experience fighting For the People. We’ve recovered over $9 billion for our clients to date, and we’d like to put our experience to work for you.
To find out more, fill out our free, no-risk case evaluation form and one of our lawyers will contact you.