Credit reporting agencies must assure the maximum accuracy of your credit report.  If they do not, then you have the right to sue the credit reporting agencies in federal court under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

When a credit reporting agency includes information in the file of another consumer, such as accounts or personal identifying information, this is called a “mixed” file.  The file is mixed because the credit report includes information concerning a different person.  When your potential creditors buy a credit report to determine whether they will extend you credit the potential lender sees information that does not reflect your creditworthiness because it belongs to someone else.  The credit report errors caused by mixed files includes judgments, liens, bankruptcies, collection accounts, adverse credit accounts, etc….As a result of the mixed file, consumers are denied credit or jobs, suffer emotional distress and harm to their credit reputation. 

It is not unusual for this to happen because of the loose matching algorithms used by the credit reporting agencies, and the credit bureaus have been on notice of the problem for at least 40 years.  A jury recently reminded Equifax that it did not believe its policies and procedures did not comply with the FCRA when it awarded Julie Miller $18.6 million. 

Ms. Miller’s credit report included errors for years.  The errors were caused because her file was mixed with another consumer’s file.  When two files a merged into one file this is known as a merged or combined file.  Ms. Miller’s file was mixed with another consumer who had the name Julie Miller.  The other consumer had several collection accounts that appeared in Ms. Miller’s file.  The derogatory accounts reduced Ms. Miller’s credit score and her ability to get credit.  In fact, the adverse information prevented Ms. Miller from getting credit to help her disabled brother. 

Ms. Miller disputed the credit report errors to Equifax, Experian and Trans Union.  Trans Union removed the inaccurate information.  Experian removed the inaccurate information, but Equifax did not.  After dealing with the stress for 2 years, Ms. Miller filed a lawsuit in federal court under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.  Equifax denied any wrong doing and also denied Ms. Miller had suffered any harm.  .

In July 2013, the jury disagreed with Equifax.  After the completion of the trial, the jury found that Equifax violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The jury ordered Equifax to pay Ms. Miller $18.6 million. This is one of the largest jury verdicts ever against a consumer reporting agency. 

Many people have a mixed credit report and don’t even know it.  Some of the red flags for a mixed file include:

  •  Incorrect name, addresses, Social Security number (including variations), or date of birth
  •  Public records that do not belong to you (judgments, liens, bankruptcies)
  •  Collection accounts for accounts that do not belong to you
  •  Accounts that do not belong to you
  •  Inquiries with companies who you have not given permission to pull your credit report

Family members tend to be at a higher risk for mixed files, especially if the consumer is a junior or senior.  Twins have a high risk of being mixed with one another. However, strangers can just as easily become mixed just because of similar personal information, just like Julie Miller.

Mixed files are common.  Generally, the only way to remove inaccurate information from your report, and remove it permanently, is to file a lawsuit under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.  If you need help correcting credit report errors, then contact attorney Micah Adkins. 

We offer free case reviews, and we are available to you 24/7 at 1-800-263-9091.