Why Are There Other People on My Credit Report?

By Zakiya Lathan

  • Overview

    Credit reports are used to judge a person's credit worthiness. Prospective landlords, employers and lenders, among others, use the reports as an indication of how well an individual pays her bills and handles her finances. Credit reports have a direct impact on your FICO score. Incorrect information that is bad can lead to a lower FICO score. The higher the FICO score, the more creditworthy the score-holder is likely to be viewed. Lenders approve or deny loan requests based, in large part, on FICO scores. This is why it is important to know what--and who--is on your credit report.
  • Two Federal Acts

    In 1971, The Fair Credit Reporting Act was enacted. This federal law was put in place to regulate credit-reporting agencies and help consumers ensure that information being reported about them is accurate. Under the Fair and Accurate Transaction Act, each of the three major credit reporting agencies must, upon request, furnish consumers with one free credit report per 12-month period. The free credit report contains much personal information, such as social security number, date of birth and address. There is credit information, such as the numbers and types of accounts a person has, credit limits and payment history.
  • Three Separate Major Credit Reporting Agencies

    The three major credit reporting agencies--Equifax, TransUnion and Experian--maintain separate credit files and calculate separate FICO scores for individuals based on the proprietary algorithm developed by the Fair Isaac Corporation (NYSE:FIC). Since each agency works independently and bases its scores on its own records, the three FICO scores are usually similar but not the same. For any one individual, there may be three different FICO scores.

  • Errors on Credit Reports

    The Fair Isaac Corporation lists several reasons there may be an error on your credit report: Applying for credit under different names. Clerical errors in transferring information from a hand-written application to a database. Inaccurate social security number. Sometimes when you find unexplained information in your credit report, it could be a sign of identity theft. Call the TransUnion Fraud Assistance Department at 800-680-7289 if you suspect this.
  • How to Fix Credit Report Errors

    Write to both the credit bureau and the person or company that reported the information to the bureau. Let that party know what you believe is incorrect information and why. Attach copies of any supporting documents you might have. Be sure to keep copies of all of your correspondence. Use certified mail, return receipt requested, so you can prove that all parties involved received your letter.
  • Follow Up

    In most cases, the credit bureau must investigate your claim within 30 days, though the entire process of removing erroneous information from your credit report can take longer. After you have waited the appropriate length of time for the investigation to be completed, get another copy of your credit report to verify that the error has been corrected. In some states, you can receive a free credit report in order to verify that errors have been corrected after challenging information contained in your records.
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