A mixed credit file or a merged credit file occurs when another consumer’s credit information is placed erroneously on your credit report. Despite the fact that the responsibility for the debt is that of another consumer, a credit reporting agency will attribute that information to your credit report. This situation can lead to disastrous consequences because the information can cost you a mortgage, a job, or to pay higher interest rates.
As you would expect, both furnishers and credit reporting agencies can be the source of the incorrect credit account that appears on your credit report. Mixed credit files and merged credit files occur for consumers because of the manner that credit reporting agencies acquire and organize their data. Originally, furnishers provide information to credit reporting agencies about consumer accounts. Furnishers provide this data electronically by including identifying information like name, address, and social security number. If the information provided by the furnisher to the credit reporting agency is incorrect or missing, then the credit reporting agency can match the information to the wrong consumer’s file. Incorrect file matching occurs because the credit reporting agencies do not maintain one file for each consumer. The credit reporting agencies maintain pieces of individual data in their records and then associate and match similar data based upon complicated algorithms that are proprietary secrets. While these algorithms are closely guarded secrets, we know some information about the process through discovery in litigation of mixed and merged credit file cases. Typically, a nine for nine social security number match is not required to associate one piece of credit information with a particular credit file, and other criteria like name and address are factors into the decision as to which file to place a credit account. A name and address alone may be enough for incorrect data to match to your file and cause a completely different credit file to ultimately merge into your credit file as part of the computerized matching process. Accordingly, people with common names have a higher chance to be the victim of mixed and merged credit files. Inappropriately merged credit files typically occur when an existing credit file begins to more closely match your credit file with the credit reporting agency. Identity theft victims also can have the identity theif’s actual bad credit merge into the good credit of the victim.
Common mixed credit file and merged credit file causes include:
- Transposition errors in social security numbers.
- Incorrect name being attributed to a social security number.
- Different versions of your name like nicknames and maiden names.
- Mismatching information related to Jr., Sr., and III suffixes
Correcting inaccurate credit information as a result of mixed credit files or merged credit files is accomplished in the same manner as any other credit report inaccuracy. Please review my previous blog post on how to dispute inaccurate information information on your credit report.
If you would like to contact me with any questions, or potential referral to a lawyer in your area, please contact me at 571-313-0412.
Many consumers in Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia are denied employment or fired because of inaccurate information in their employment credit reports. If you have lost a job or job offer because of inaccurate credit or criminal information, you have very specific rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Employment credit report cases are very complex, and it makes sense to consult with a lawyer regarding your specific situation. Consumers have detailed rights as to employment related credit reports that a potential employer must disclose prior to obtaining an employment related credit report.
The FCRA requires that a potential employer provide a “clear and conspicuous” disclosure in writing before the employment related consumer report is procured or caused to be procured for employment purposes. This disclosure must be in a document that consists solely of the disclosure. You are entitled to a separate, written disclosure that clearly discloses to you that a consumer report will be obtained for employment purposes prior to the time that a potential employer obtains a credit report.
Consumers also have specific rights prior to the time that an employer can take an adverse action based on or partially based on information contained in an employment related consumer report. Prior to taking an adverse action, like not hiring a consumer because of information in a consumer report, the employer must provide a copy of the report and a description in writing of certain consumer rights. The FCRA requires this disclosure so that a consumer may be able to correct any inaccurate information in their consumer report prior to the time that they are actually harmed by the information contained in an inaccurate employment related consumer report.
Many consumers lose employment because of inaccurate employment credit reports. These reports include information related not only to late financial history, like charge-offs, judgments, and bankruptcy, but also include inaccurate felony convictions and criminal records. In a tough job market, employment offers will go to the next available candidate who need not explain why they were never convicted of a felony or other inaccurate reporting.
Consumers have very detailed rights as to employment related credit reports and are best served by contacting an attorney to discuss their specific factual scenario. I would be happy to speak to you about your situation and potentially help you with your problem in Virginia or direct you to a local lawyer that may be able to assist you.
Many consumers wonder why they have inaccurate judgment, criminal record, and bankruptcy information on their credit report. The answer lies in the process in which the credit reporting agencies obtain the information. Often times the information is obtained from entities called pubic record vendors. These vendors obtain information from courthouse records, but the data mined from the courthouse can be old, modified, or limited in content. The identifying information acquired can be as little as a common name and a street address, which leads to wrong information matching to another consumer’s credit report. Many of these records do not contain social security numbers which also makes it more likely that the wrong public record information will match to the wrong credit report. This leads to consumers having credit reports containing erroneous felony convictions, convictions that were of a lesser offense, inaccurate bankruptcy listings, and inaccurate judgment information on a credit file. These are serious problems than can cost a consumer a mortgage or a job offer.
One of the largest entities possessing public record information is a company called Lexis-Nexis. Lexis-Nexis has lots of data in its files on all of us, and it has purchased many smaller public record vendors so that it can have even more data. Many consumers know to monitor their financial credit report, but they should also monitor information contained in their public record for other types of inaccuracies that are different than traditional credit accounts like criminal convictions and tax liens. Many employers are conducting background checks, and you should know the information thats is reported about your history. You can obtain a copy of your Lexis-Nexis file by following the instructions from Lexis-Nexis at the following link.
Inaccurate criminal record information and inaccurate judgment information can be some of the worst inaccuracies possible in the area of credit reports, and can be very difficult to have removed from your file. If you have this highly damaging information on your credit record, you should consult an attorney who specializes in credit report law. I would be happy to discuss any issues with you.