Previous topics have discussed how to obtain a free copy of your credit report, and how to review your credit report. However, in some instances consumers have an initial credit report problem because they cannot get a copy of their credit report upon request. Simple reasons like entering incorrect data, transposition errors, and incorrect responses to security questions could be the reason that a consumer does not receive a copy of their credit report, but a larger problem could exist because of the manner in which credit reporting agencies store data.
Credit reporting agencies receive information about consumers in bulk from furnishers, and they maintain that information as data in their computer system. When a potential creditor or consumer requests a credit report, the credit reporting agencies place the information provided into a matching algorithm system that compares the data input with all the data that the CRAs maintain. Because the matching algorithms are proprietary, we do not know exactly how they work, but it has been revealed in trial testimony that a nine for nine match of social security numbers is not a requirement for a particular piece of credit data to match to a credit file. As a result, if pieces of furnished data are incomplete or inaccurate, the data will not match to an existing file which can cause mixed files, merged files, or multiple files. Please see my previous post on mixed and merged credit files.
When consumers try to get a copy of their credit report and they are unable to receive the report, the cause could be that the credit reporting agency has a mixed or multiple credit file concern about the data. The credit reporting agencies do not want to release the wrong consumer file about a consumer that did not request the information, so they typically ask for additional identifying information and release no credit file. Credit reporting agencies do not want to release the wrong credit file containing another consumer’s information because they could be in violation of the FCRA at 15 U.S.C. 1681b, which regulates how consumer reports can be disclosed.
The problem for the consumers that I have seen is that even after providing verifying information regarding their identity, like driver’s license, social security card, or utility bill information, the credit reporting agencies are still not providing a consumer file disclosure as required under the FCRA at 15 U.S.C. 1681g. Consumers have real problems in this scenario because they are unable to review the information that may be inaccurate and the source of credit denials. If you have suffered through multiple attempts to obtain a copy of your credit file without receiving the report, I recommend that you talk to a FCRA lawyer about your situation. Please feel free to contact me for ideas or suggestions to help you resolve your problem.