Credit Report Errors Are More Common Than You Might Think

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Woman looking at her credit report

If you don’t regularly monitor your credit report, consider this a wake-up call: Nearly half of people — 44% — recently found mistakes in their credit report when they participated in a Consumer Reports survey.

Consumer Reports and the nonprofit WorkMoney combined forces for the survey, asking 4,300 people to check their credit reports. When they did:

  • 44% found at least one error.
  • 34% found errors related to their personal information, such as a wrong address (55%), a misspelled name (34%) or a wrong name (27%).
  • 11% said it was “somewhat difficult” or “very difficult” to access their credit report.

In fact, of the 4,300 people asked to check their reports, only 3,200 were able to do so. Some of those who could not access their reports said they couldn’t get past security questions. Others received error messages.

Consumer Reports notes that the study itself was “not nationally representative,” but the errors were still widespread.

Just over 1 in 4 of the survey participants — 27% — found mistakes that were serious enough to impact their creditworthiness. Among those who reported finding incorrect financial information on their report, the most common errors were the following:

  • Discovering a debt that was reported to collections but that the consumer did not recognize (59%)
  • Finding accounts the consumer did not recognize (56%)
  • Having at least one on-time payment listed as “late” (22%)
  • Having at least one payment listed as missed altogether (19%)

Consumer Reports says such errors can cause a person’s credit score to plunge.

The publication also notes that the problem is growing worse. It cites data from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which says such incorrect credit report information is its No. 1 consumer complaint, with the number of those complaints more than doubling between 2021 and 2023.

Today, there is really no excuse for not monitoring your credit reports closely. As we have reported, you can now check your credit report for free every week.

With errors so common, it makes sense to take advantage of that freebie. Consumer Reports also suggests the following tips for catching errors quickly:

  • Activate alerts via your bank so you are notified of every transaction tied to your account.
  • Sign up for free credit score or credit report monitoring if your bank or credit card company offers it.
  • If your information was exposed in a large data breach, take advantage of free credit monitoring if it is offered to you.
  • Consider freezing your credit with the three main credit-reporting agencies.
  • File a dispute with a credit-reporting agency as soon as you find an error.

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