What is a merged file, and how does this differ from identity theft?
“What is a merged file, and how does this differ from identity theft?”
You may have figured out that there’s false information on your credit report, and wondered if you’re dealing with identity theft. You may actually be dealing with a mixed/merged file.
A merged file, also know as a mixed file, is where your credit report gets mixed with someone else’s report.
Imagine that your report is in an envelope and someone else’s report is in another envelope.
Both envelopes get mixed up because they both fell on the ground and then someone scoops them up and mixes up the papers inside.
This isn’t identity theft, it’s simply something wrong with the credit reporting agency, such as Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion.
They don’t have physical folders anymore, but they tag data to your personal identification information (name, date of birth, Social Security, etc.).
Then, when they pull your credit information to create a “report”, they pull the individual pieces of data that match your personal identifiers (name, date of birth, etc).
However, this isn’t always 100% accurate.
Sometimes they either put your birthdate in wrong or they type in your social security wrong, etc. so when the credit bureaus do a “search” to create your report, it pulls someone else’s data into it also. This is where you get a mixed/merged file.
How is this different from identity theft?
Identity theft is where someone says, “I want your identity to buy a home loan, car loan, get a new bank account, etc.”
This isn’t a mixed/merged file, this is a thief stealing your identity.
How do you fix this?
1.) Pull your credit reports.
You may already have your reports from a car dealership or a mortgage broker.
If you’d like, you can go to AnnualCreditReport.com and get them for free.
2.) Look at your credit reports.
Check and see what isn’t yours on that report. Once you find accounts (“tradelines” is the fancy name) that are not yours, make a list of them.
3.)You may also want to call the furnisher, the person who’s combining the information, and see if they have a file on you.
If they don’t, then it may just be a merged file.
If they do have an account on you and they’re saying that you have a house loan in California (which you actually don’t), then that’s a strong hint that you’re dealing with identity theft.
4.) Another way to fix this is to send a dispute letter.
Especially if you’re not sure whether you’re dealing with a merged file or identity theft, you can send a dispute letter with a fraud affidavit and a police report.
You can get the fraud affidavit from the FTC.
Fill out the affidavit, and get a police report to send with your letter.
In that letter you can explain that you’re not sure what happened, but you want the company to fix it.
Make sure you send this all the credit reporting agenices and furnishers, everyone who is reporting on you.
Once you notify them, they have to decide what to do.
If the credit reporting agencies are not reporting the account on you, then it’s most likely a merged file and they can stop mixing the files together.
If they are reporting on you and you notify them that it’s identity theft, then they have to make a decision.
Are they going to fix it, or keep it on your report and claim it’s no big deal?
If they fix it, that’s great.
If they don’t, then you can sue them for money damages.
Amazingly, if you sue them, they’ll fix it. 🙂 And pay money damages.
At that point, they realize they got caught, and now they have to correct their mistake.
If they take it to trial because they won’t fix it, that’s fine. It’s no problem to try your case — I had a judge once tell me that’s why we have judges with the black robes in courthouses — to try cases.
Feel free to contact us.
If you live in the state of Alabama and have any questions about what we’ve covered in this article, feel free to get in touch with us.
You can reach us by phone at 1-205-879-2447 and asking for Randi, or you can fill out a contact form and we will be happy get in touch with you.
I look forward to talking with you!