What is tweaking? Sure, I’ve seen Dog the Bounty Hunter and heard Beth talking about the “ice heads” tweaking, but that is not what I am talking about here. Tweaking, when it comes to credit report errors and disputes, is identity manipulation. Tweaking is also identity fraud.  Tweakers manipulate their real personal identifying information in order to take advantage of the credit bureaus loose matching logic and avoid potential creditors from seeing bad debts or public records, such as judgments.

The fraudster “tweaks” their personal identifying information (date of birth, name spelling, or Social Security number) in an effort to prevent the potential creditor from seeing bad debts. Here’s how it works, the fraudster’s incorrect information is sent to the credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian or TransUnion, and the bureaus return possible matches to the credit inquiry. As a result of the incorrect identifiers, the creditor may not receive all of the derogatory accounts and public records that belong to the applicant. The creditor then sees information that belongs to other consumers when making its decision to extend credit to the fraudster.

In a national review of credit accounts, ID Analytics found:  8 million people using two or more Social Security numbers; 16 million people using multiple birth dates; and 10 million people manipulating their identities by co-mingling some of their spouse’s information into their own identity.

Tweaking is not a victimless crime. The consumers who end up with the accounts obtained by fraud can be harmed by tweaking. For example, if the fraudster does not pay the account on time or defaults on the account, the account may be reported to the credit agencies. As a result, when the consumer tries to get credit, the consumer may be turned down or receive a higher interest rate because of the fraud.

Consumers should request their free annual credit report to look for fraud. If you receive your credit report and find errors, you should send a dispute letter to the three nationwide consumer reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. If the credit bureau does not perform a reasonable investigation and delete the inaccurate information, under the Fair Credit Reporting Act you have the right to sue the credit agency.

Contact us and ask for consumer credit protection lawyer Micah Adkins for a free legal consultation. 1-800-263-9091. For more information about your rights under the Fair credit Reporting Act (FCRA), click HERE.