Mistaken identity on your credit history or credit file is more common than many people realize. Similar names, birth dates, and even Social Security Numbers can lead to errors in the credit reporting system, causing damage to your financial health that require immediate attention.
(To learn more about credit reporting, see the articles in Credit Repair After Bankruptcy.)
Below are some steps to take to minimize the risk of errors in the credit reporting system.
Check your credit report often.
You may not realize there’s a problem until a loan is denied or a bill collector begins calling. If you suspect an issue, obtain a free copy of your credit report to find out more. Review your personal information to verify its accuracy and make sure every account listed is yours. Circle the mistakes to help you begin the credit repair process.
Follow through with name-change plans.
Some credit errors arise from incomplete information, namely, a name change. If you were recently married, make sure your new last name is carried over in every area of your life. While you are required to notify the Social Security Administration and the DMV, use some initiative to notify others as well. Make a list of your active accounts and contact each creditor immediately. Reducing the risk of mistaken identity reduces your need for credit help in the future.
Review past and current employment records.
A single misread digit or letter could spell big trouble for your finances. Have you recently been told you owe back taxes? Ask your employer for a copy of your records. Misspelling your name or Social Security Number could redirect another person’s bad debt onto your plate. If warranted, contact past employers and ask for the same information. Mistaken identity can perpetuate for years, and it’s up to you to track down the info.
Hire an experienced credit lawyer.
Managing a case of mistaken identity is tough, especially when bill collectors pose threats and false accusations. If the process has become too overwhelming, consider hiring a credit lawyer to protect your financial future.