By Diana Palmieri
I love this song by the Ting Tings. And you may too. It actually popped into my head while going through a credit report fiasco involving me and my husband.
A few months back, I decided to apply for a HELOC loan to do some updates to my home. I applied jointly with my husband Anthony. While going through the long over-the-phone application process, the loan officer told me she was now going to give me our credit scores. Mine was fine as it was the number I knew it was. My husband’s was not … as a matter of fact, it was 100 points lower than what it was about six months ago. My gasp was noticeable to the loan officer and she wanted to know what was wrong. I told her that it was impossible for Anthony’s score to be in that range, especially since about six months ago I knew differently and had it in writing. I asked her to read me some of the information that was coming back to her on his credit report and she proceeded to tell me about several car payments and additional credit cards that were not ours.
I asked her for a few numbers of the creditors and started calling away. I had to get my husband on a conference call with one of the creditors only to discover she still really could not give us any information but did verify the social security number was not the same. She suggested I check out the credit reporting agencies. Off I went to the annual free credit report Web site. I usually run these annually because they are free and I can check out what’s going on in my background, credit history, payment information, and outstanding debt. I do it around tax season and was a little late this year. You can imagine the horror when I ran Anthony’s with Experian and it was about 40 pages long. I thought I was going to faint. On this report were two other guys named Anthony and assorted variations of our last name. And a different wife! And several different addresses! A different social security number! Three mortgages, many car loans, and almost every credit card known. Wow!
Back on the phone with my husband and conferencing in Experian to try and clear this up worked out pretty well. The advisor on the phone was fabulous, and even she gasped when she saw what was going on in this report. Then she asked if I was “Lorraine.” I quickly responded that’s not my name and I would deal with Anthony and Lorraine later. LOL. Then she quickly verified what was ours and what was theirs and had an updated report to me within 24 hours. If a name is misspelled and you are combined with other identities out there, your credit report can be repaired right over the phone (at least with Experian). I admit I was concerned because normally to fix a credit report, you would have to write to the agency. That was not the case this time. His other credit reports were fine so we did not have to correct anything there (whew!).
The moral of the story is and I’ve said it before, don’t ignore your credit reports! They are free, you can check once a year, and you should check all three reporting agencies. It is really important. A 100 point drop in a credit score can do some damage, affect APRs of certain loans and credit cards , or even be declined a loan or credit card–all for someone else’s mistake in reporting and misspelling a name.
Go to www.annualcreditreport.com and check it out today. There are other Web sites claiming to be free, but the one I reference is the one to go to. By federal law, you have a right to view this once a year. Make it a point to do once a year, perhaps around tax time like I do. With all the fraud and e-mail hacking going on, you really need to make this a priority.
Diana Palmieri is dually registered with Vanderbilt Securities LLC and H Beck Inc., which are unaffiliated. Securities offered through Vanderbilt Securities LLC, member SIPC/FINRA/MSRB.