FILE MATCHING INACCURACIES BY CREDIT AGENCIES – MIXED OR MERGED FILE
Credit reporting agencies store consumer information in each individual consumer’s credit file, which they receive from furnishers, i.e., credit card companies, lenders, creditors, and debt collectors. With this information, agencies generate each consumer's credit scores and credit history. As credit agencies handle a large amount of consumer data, errors are bound to occur. These errors can cause inaccuracies in credit history. Ultimately, these inaccuracies can lead to poor credit scores, credit denials, and higher interest rates for consumers.
Inaccuracies can occur when a credit agency receives information from a furnisher and assigns a credit tradeline to a consumer’s file or when it determines a credit file matches the consumer named in a creditor inquiry. The causes of such inaccuracy may be:
· There are a limited set of identifiers relating to the consumer contained in a tradeline or creditor inquiry. For example, a creditor inquiry may omit information like the social security number or date of birth of the consumer, which may make it difficult to identify the credit file of the consumer. This will result in higher chances of error.
· Family members tend to have similar identifying information as each other. When a father and son both have a common last name as well as common addresses, inaccuracy while matching consumer files is more prone to occur.
· When a name or SSN is entered erroneously, unrelated individuals with similar names and identifying information are likely to be matched together.
· Furnisher’s error - Furnishers may type accurate consumer data inaccurately or make typographical errors such as transposing two digits in an SSN, misspelling names, or transposing the first and middle names of consumers
· Consumer’s mistakes - Consumers may give furnishers incorrect information while seeking credit.
These inaccuracies result in mixed or merged credit files. As a result, a credit report file for a particular consumer may have a blend of credit information from different consumer accounts. Personal information or files can also be completely mismerged. Credit agencies that fail to strictly follow procedures and to take measures to ensure maximum accuracy of consumer information are at risk of violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Mixed or merged files have been well-recognized and prosecuted regularly.