Credit report error rates vary wildly, depending on who you believe, from less than 1% to almost 80%. There have been a small number of studies conducted on the topic and another is set to be released by the FTC before the end of 2012. We’re all waiting on the edge of our seats to see the results of the FTC study.
The latest study was conducted by The Columbus Dispatch. The newspaper collected and analyzed tens of thousands of consumer complaints filed with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) against the three credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
Highlights of Columbus Dispatch Study
More than 5 percent of the complaints dealt with incorrect basic personal information, such as birth dates, addresses or Social Security numbers.
More than 5 percent of those who complained to the Federal Trade Commission said their reports listed an account that was not theirs.
Almost 200 people said their credit reports listed them as dead, which made it impossible for them to get credit.
Approximately 21.500 consumers complained about their credit files to the Federal Trade Commission over the past 2 ½ years, beginning in 2009. Almost six percent (1,252) complained that their credit files had been mixed with another person’s. Of this group, 30 percent complained the credit reporting agencies failed to correct the mistakes after they requested the change. Here is a breakdown of this group:
75 percent identified the other person they were mixed with.
563 or 45 percent were their mother, father, sister, brother, son, daughter or grandparent.
213 or 17 percent were a stranger.
59 or 4.7 percent were a stranger with the same name.
27 or 2.2 percent were a stranger with a similar name.
25 or 2 percent were a stranger with a similar Social Security number.
13 or 1 percent were an in-law.
Since there are approximately 200 million consumers with credit reports, even a small percentage of error represents a large number. One percent represents 2 million consumers. Errors on your credit report can take years to correct. The credit reporting agencies are required by law to respond to your request for investigation within 30-45 days. Their research usually consists of verifying this information with the source of the data.
To check your credit reports for accuracy, you are entitled to a free copy of your credit report every 12 months from each of the three credit reporting agencies – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Go to AnnualCreditReport.com or call 1-877-322-8228. Dispute any errors you find.
The author of this article, John Ulzheimer, is a trusted credit expert who provides consistent, reliable information. SuperMoney aims to provide the highest quality content for our viewers, and being aware of the reality that credit report errors do happen, our viewers can arm themselves with the knowledge necessary to take action if and when they encounter a credit reporting error.