Have you checked your credit report recently? Or ever?
Shelli* was doing everything right, but something was dragging down her score — it just didn’t make sense. So she ordered her credit report and found the culprit. There was a delinquent credit card from an account she owned with an ex years ago. She had been removed from it a long time ago, but there it was.
Stories like Shelli’s are not uncommon. In fact, one in five people have at least one error on their credit report, according to the FTC. These mistakes can tank your score, which affects your ability to get approved for a loan and the interest rate you’ll qualify for.
Most issues are due to a simple clerical error. You might see accounts that don’t belong to you, because the true owner has a similar name or Social Security Number and someone made a typo. You might see your accounts reporting an incorrect balance or credit limit. You might see closed accounts that should no longer appear, or accounts incorrectly reported as delinquent.
That’s what happened to John.* He got a car loan, then paid it off in less than a year. Then he saw his credit score tumble. After reviewing his credit report, he discovered that the loan was reporting as a charge off, which is an account so far delinquent that the creditor has given up on collecting it.
You might also discover you’re a victim of identity theft.
Stephanie* read an article about the rise in identity theft cases targeting kids and tried pulling up a credit report for her 7-year-old. Kids shouldn’t have a record, since you have to be 18 or older to get a credit line, so she was shocked to see that he apparently bought a car a few years ago. It was terrifying to feel so vulnerable and exposed.
Children’s information is appealing to scammers because it’s easier to commit fraud and get away with it. The fraudulent account might not raise any red flags because there isn’t any normal activity established, and since kids aren’t using credit, it can remain undetected for years.
*Member names withheld.