Can you imagine knowing that you’re dying of multiple cancers, trying to make sure your spouse of 50 years could cover burial costs, and attempting to renovate your home, and then being denied your HELOC application?
That’s what happened to James Rennick. He was told that there was a problem with his credit report. It turned out Equifax and Experian had blended his credit file with a man named James Palmer, who was dead.
Mr. Rennick died roughly a year later, and both he and his wife were cremated because they couldn’t afford the burial expenses.
What Is a Mixed Credit File?
A mixed credit file, unfortunately, is not an uncommon experience. It occurs whenever a credit reporting agency (such as Equifax or Experian) mixes the credit history of two different individuals.
How Do Mixed Files Occur?
Mixed files can occur in a variety of ways. Sometimes it’s a case of having a similar name to someone else. Other times, an individual may apply for new credit with an incorrect digit in their social security number. In some instances, a loan officer might accidentally switch the social security numbers of partners or spouses applying for a mortgage.
How Can You Correct a Mixed Credit File?
According to federal law, credit agencies and the company that provided the information are responsible for correcting any inaccurate or incomplete information on your credit report. However, the responsibility for pointing it out falls on your shoulders. Therefore, as soon as you realize there’s an error, you should file a dispute with all of the credit bureaus that have the incorrect information and submit documentation that proves your identity.
Commonly required information includes:
Your full name, including middle name and suffix, such as Jr., Sr., II, III;
Your date of birth;
Your Social Security number;
Your current address, including apartment number if applicable.
What Makes Mixed Credit Files Hard to Fix?
Mixed credit files are notoriously challenging to fix as they usually involve commingling two identities rather than just having inaccurate information on a report. Although this has been an ongoing problem over many decades, credit reporting agencies are slow to make changes.