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.