Credit report errors costly to consumers

Study: 5 percent of consumers had errors on credit reports

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Errors could be tarnishing the credit reports of about 40 million Americans, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

The figure comes from a study of the U.S. credit reporting industry. Research shows that five percent of consumers had errors on one of their three major credit reports that could lead to them paying more for products such as auto loans and insurance, the FTC said.

The consumers Channel 4 spoke with said they do all they can to monitor their credit reports and prevent errors.

"I wonder sometimes. We're big on credit, we talk about (it), so I worry on that a lot," said Patrick Edwards.

"Honestly, I had a really terrible boyfriend, so I wanted to keep track of everything, make sure no credit cards are being opened," said Ava Grant.

Even people who have great credit could end up with blemishes on their report.

"The reality is, that's always been the case," said Dawn Lockhart, president of Family Foundations in Jacksonville. "Now we know it to be true. We really want our clients to think about their credit report like their bank account. If their credit report has inaccurate items, that's just money going down the drain, just like if somebody had identity theft on your checking account," said Lockhart.

Errors on a credit report can cost a consumer a lot, such as a loan on a home, high interest rates on loans and credit cards. Beyond a loan, poor credit can cost people a security clearance, insurance and even a job.

Lockhart recommends consumers start protecting their credit reports as soon as possible. 

"Unfortunately, consumers with errors on their credit report, sometimes through no fault of their own, of course it's going to be a hassle, but the reality is you have to be your own advocate," said Lockhart. "You are the person that care the most about your own personal financial affairs."

For more information on the study, visit the Federal Trade Commission's web site.

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