This past weekend, KOMO News 4 television in Seattle reported:
"All Ann Howe wanted was lower mortgage payments. The last thing she expected was more stress. Months earlier, she'd discovered her husband of 55 years had died in his sleep. Then, she says, a lump in her forehead was misdiagnosed. It turned out to be cancer. Days after cancer surgery, doctors discovered Howe needed open heart surgery. She almost died. When she finally regained her strength, she applied for a mortgage refinance loan to reduce her payments and help her budget... Two of the credit reporting agencies showed her credit rating was close to 800. But her Experian report had a problem... Howe's Experian credit report had her listed as deceased. One of her creditors had reported her as dead."
You can watch a video clip of the KOMO report online. Howe's story highlights three two critical facts of life:
- Credit bureaus make mistakes and include errors on consumers' credit reports. They are reluctant to advertise this fact, since they make money selling consumers' credit reports to potential lenders, whether those reports are accurate or not.
- The three major credit bureaus routinely ship consumers' sensitive personal data across country borders worldwide. Often, the updating of records is performed by outsourcing vendors. To learn more, read this 4-part series.
- It is your responsibility to check the accuracy of your Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion credit reports. Nobody else is going to do it for you. Errors can result in denied credit or higher interest rates.
I have personal experience with this. In 2004, I applied for an American Express card and was denied because I was listed as deceased by the Experian credit bureau.
After reviewing my Experian credit report, I found an error where the credit bureau co-mingled my information with my father's information. We are both named George, this error should not have happened. I was able to correct the problem by providing the credit bureau with a certified copy of my father's death certificate and highlighted the facts that we have different birth dates and Social Security numbers.
So, errors in credit reports happen more frequently than you'd expect. For your free annual credit reports, visit the official Web site annualcreditreport.com today.