If you recently received a message from a free score site stating,” Your personal information doesn’t match credit bureau files,” you might be wondering what it means and the steps needed to rectify the problem.
You cannot get a free score from Credit Karma or any other website or app if the agencies cannot find your consumer report – if you have one. Plus, lenders might have the same problem.
Any good doctor will begin by diagnosing the problem before recommending a treatment. Likewise, you have to figure out the root of the issue before attempting a fix.
Once you have the proper diagnosis, the steps are obvious.
Why Information Does Not Match
There could be many reasons your personal information does not match credit bureau files. We will begin with the most common causes and work our way down the list to help you diagnose the problem.
Incorrect assumptions are the primary reason credit bureaus cannot match their personal information. You are not born with a file at the agencies; data does not magically appear.
You have no record until after initiating a borrowing relationship!
You do not have a starting credit score at age 18 because the agencies have no information to display until a lender reports on a tradeline. You have to apply for and then open a borrowing account to feed information to the bureaus.
- Hard Inquiry: communicates name, address, social security number, and date of birth (personal identifying information)
- New Trade Line: communicates personal identifying information, account type, date opened, the amount owed, payment status, etc.
Widely differing data is another reason your personal information might not match credit bureau files. The agencies’ program software combines data from multiple sources into a single record. The software also associates an inquiry with the resulting reports.
Some variation levels are normal, but sometimes, things can get slightly too gray. Therefore, bureau software employs confidence intervals to determine when data accurately belongs to one person or two different people.
- Transposed digits on social security numbers and date of birth and other clerical errors (typos)
- Inconsistent presentation of names such as nicknames (Mike, Miguel, Michael) and generation codes (junior, senior, etc.)
- Address variations such as missing apartment numbers, street directionals (north, south, east, west), and PO boxes
While our birthday and social security numbers should remain constant (unless a typo introduced a problem), names and addresses frequently change.
Name changes can create data inconsistency problems and cause the bureaus to conclude that your personal information does not accurately match an existing record.
For example, women often change their surname after marriage or divorce. A woman might go by Betsy Smith one day and Elizabeth Smith-Bond the next. The bureaus must make an educated guess whether she is one person or two.
In another twist, Hispanic people traditionally use two surnames, listing the apellido paterno first and the apellido materno second. However, if they defy tradition and drop one surname, the bureaus could have another challenging accuracy dilemma.
Address changes are an ongoing data inconsistency problem that can lead the bureaus to decide that your personal information does not accurately match existing files.
People move constantly, and each change of address creates a new challenge. The bureau software must decide if this variation allows them to connect records precisely. Is this one person or two? Sometimes the answer is clear, and other times murky.
- Clear: name, social, and date of birth precisely the same
- Murky: name, social, and date of birth have discrepancies
How to Update Personal Information
You can confidently update or correct the data once you diagnose why your personal information does not match credit bureau files.
Taking these steps should finally allow you to get your free score and ensure that lenders will have a useful measure to predict future delinquency.
Many people must establish a file rather than update or correct personal information at the bureaus. The agencies must first have a record that you exist as a customer at a lending institution.
You cannot match it to a non-existing file. Therefore, you must establish one, which requires proactive steps on your part.
- Open a first-time installment loan for people with no credit history
- Apply for a secured credit card from a bank with a national brand
- Communicate utility bills and rent payments to build a record
Correcting personal information anomalies through your creditors is the best way to update the data at the bureaus. Always start with the source of any irregularities, as the agencies are compilers, not originators.
Consistency is the key to a reliable match. You should correct any errors with the creditor, who sends updates every thirty days to each of the three bureaus.
First, print out a copy of recent billing statements from every lender you have a relationship with and verify that these elements are consistent.
- First, middle, and surname are identical and listed in the same order
- Street name, apartment number, city, state, and zip code are identical
Second, if the statements do not have any apparent differences, call customer service to verify the social security number and date of birth they have on file. Follow their instructions to correct any anomalies.