I am not my own grandpa, Experian!
May 10, 2007 11:10 PM   Subscribe

My father, grandfather, and I all have the first and last names, with only different middle names to distinguish us, no suffixes. How do I go about untangling our credit reports?

Because of the way information is reported to credit unions, you'd think we were the same person with more addresses and aliases than a Bond villain!

I checked my credit report today and was a little leery when all three agencies asked me about my mortgage. Since I don't have a mortgage I knew right away we were going to have problems.

- Equifax has everything basically right for me, other than having an old address and the employer I was with in 2000. They only list a single recent positive account for me.

- Transunion pitched a hissy and won't let me see the report online because I refused to tell them all about my mortgage. As I am not privy to my parent's financial history, I have no idea who it is with or how long the terms are. If I want a Transunion report, I have to write for it.

- Experian is totally fubar and has the following:
* Dad's birthyear instead of mine
* two negative accounts of Dad's
* one negative account that doesn't provide remotely enough information for me to figure who the hell it belongs to.
* one positive account of Dad's
* two accounts of mine, one negative and one positive, both recent.
* Every permutation of my dad's name, my name, and my grandfather's name.
* Dad's social security information listed as an "alternative" to my own.
* Information on my parent's mortgage.

It bothers me that Experian gave me so much information on my parent's credit, even though when answering the questions to prove my identity I didn't even try to answer things related to their mortgage.
posted by aristan to Work & Money (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Isn't this what a SIN (or I guess an SSN in the States) is for? A unique identifier?
posted by jimmythefish at 12:40 AM on May 11, 2007

This one really is easy because all of the credit reporting agencies have an information dispute process. Use it.

You don't need to worry about knowing first who everything belongs to. Just dispute each line item that isn't yours. They're required to verify anything you challenge. Within a month, you will see a difference.

The online dispute forms are too constraining for such situations, though. Use each agency's dispute-by-mail option so you can point out that John Q. Aristan b. 1968 is not the same person as John R. Aristan b. 1945, and mention accounts that they've omitted from your current report. Again, you don't need to know whose report those accounts are being misattributed to now; that's their problem to figure out.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 1:08 AM on May 11, 2007

Hmm. My dad's name is exactly the same as mine -- I'm a Jr. but I rarely use it. I also have an older cousin with the same exact name, so he and my dad have no way to distinguish each other. We've never had any problems with mixed credit reports. Is there any chance there was some malfeasance on your father's part here? Not to malign the guy, but you may have an easier time getting corrections made if you can tell them it is an identity theft situation as opposed to them screwing up.
posted by Rock Steady at 4:33 AM on May 11, 2007

I checked my credit report today and was a little leery when all three agencies asked me about my mortgage.

They always ask me about my nonexistent mortgage too. I think it's just a standard security verification since many people have them, and you're just supposed to say "none of the above". I only get a valid question + correct choice about 1 out of 5 questions.
posted by smackfu at 4:56 AM on May 11, 2007

I second nakedcodemonkey's recommendation. A few years ago one of my mother's accounts was on my report--we don't have the same first name nor do we live at the same address so it was a complete mystery. I was able to dispute it and it was removed from my report. If I remember correctly, I was sent a new report showing that it had been removed.
posted by jdl at 5:29 AM on May 11, 2007

Since the CRAs don't normally use the SSN to identify the proper file to put the data in, only name and address, things like this happen. Write them letters. Keep documentation. If they don't fix it right off the bat, start sending certified mail, but only after their time alloted by statute is up, and they can't claim that you've given them "new information" that lets them sit on their hands for another good long while. If/when that doesn't work, sue for the statutory damages. You might as well lay the groundwork to get yourself paid for the time you have to spend dealing with their idiocy, if you can.

Somewhere around 70% of credit reports are in error in some way or another, you just happen to be one of the really "lucky" ones who has many errors.
posted by wierdo at 5:39 AM on May 11, 2007

Definitely use the paper dispute process, because they have a binding arbitration agreement you have to sign before they let you in online.

If they don't fix it, and you get denied credit or fail to qualify for a rate you otherwise would have, they may be liable to you for $1000 per violation, under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 6:41 AM on May 11, 2007

smackfu is right. I've been asked about the mortgage that I don't have. Just say 'none of the above' and it should go through. if you have a short/nonexistant credit history, you can expect most of the questions they ask to not really have anything to do with you.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 7:04 AM on May 11, 2007

I am sure nakedcodemonkey meant "straightforward" more than "easy" but it still made me laugh when I read it. Sorry NCM - I got nuthin but love4u!

You should really do all this contesting via paper. You want to have a trail if you reach the point where you have to threaten legal action - not unknown when dealing with cases when the problem is the credit reporting agency (CRA) screwing up rather than bad submitted information.

In a nutshell you have the right to contest information with the CRA and, when they simply rubber-stamp it (as they have a rep for doing) you have the right to demand they document their procedure for validating the info.

As always, the forums at creditboards have good information.
posted by phearlez at 7:19 AM on May 11, 2007

I have been where you are. My grandfather, my father and I all have the same name. To make it worse my father middle initial and mine are the same. Credit agency thought I opened a Sears card 20 years before I was born.

I had to get them to take it off every year for about 3 years. Now it finally seems to have gone away for good. Just be aware you will probably have to do this multiple times.
posted by UMDirector at 8:26 AM on May 11, 2007

This one really is easy <ins>to answer</ins> because all of the credit reporting agencies have an information dispute process. Use it.

I am sure nakedcodemonkey meant "straightforward" more than "easy" but it still made me laugh when I read it. Sorry NCM - I got nuthin but love4u!

Aw. Right back at'cha. Hope the edit makes things clearer. :-)
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 2:40 PM on May 11, 2007

I'm pretty sure Experian has a dozens of randomly-typing monkeys doing their data correlation. They make some wild assumptions. Like jdl, I've seen my parents' mortgage on my Experian report even though there's no earthly reason for it. All 3 agencies seem also to find it rather implausible that a 35 year old would not still live at the parental units' address. Never mind that I've never lived at that particular address. Apparently here's how the logic worked: in the late '80s I was listed as an authorized user on a parental credit card; therefore all accounts/mortgages my folks open for the rest of time obviously must be jointly owned by me. Or something.

Just dispute, lather, rinse, and repeat. The stuff comes off.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 2:57 PM on May 11, 2007

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