This article is part of the How to Read Your Annual Credit Report series.
Knowing how to verify your credit report information is an important factor to taking control of your finances. The second step is to review all of the information contained within the personal information section of your annual credit report. Personal information may be the first thing to appear in your credit report, though each credit report company does things a bit differently.
While this personal information has no direct impact on your credit score, it’s very important that everything reported here be accurate and up to date. The credit bureaus use this information to verify your identity, and if anything here is incorrect or outdated, your security may be compromised.
Names: Your credit report will usually list multiple names for you. If your name is “Janet Doe”, you might see a list of names like this:
JANET DOE, JANET X DOE, JAN DOE, JAN X DOE
And if you have changed your name, your original or maiden name will be listed as well:
JANET SMITH, JANET X SMITH, JAN SMITH
You can see how what seems like a simple entry—your name—can become a rather long list.
Make sure each name is yours in some way. Sometimes the list will include misspellings. This may not a problem; if a creditor misspelled your name somewhere down the line, that mistake will be included in your report to ensure all of your credit information is included. A misspelling here is not something you need to bother correcting unless it’s associated with an account that isn’t yours.
Address: Your credit report will list at least your last two residences, and probably more. You may see a list of every address you’ve ever had since you first established credit in your own name. Check this list and make sure each address is correct and that you actually lived there.
Social Security Number: This section may be obscured to prevent identity theft.
Date of Birth
Spouse’s First Name
Employers: Your current employer may be listed, and perhaps some of your former employers as well. Not all employers supply employment information to credit bureaus, and they may not do so with all three bureaus.
Telephone Numbers: Any reported telephone numbers will be displayed on your report.
Consumer Statement: A personal comment that you have submitted to the credit bureaus for inclusion in your report.
Date Reported: The date the information was first reported to the bureau by your creditors.
Last Updated: The date the information was last updated with the bureau by your creditors.
You can see that what might be a small section of your credit report can be very important. When we stress ensuring the accuracy of your credit file information, this is the section you should start with.
The bottom line is, you need to be sure that the information in your credit file is yours, and not someone else’s. Removing incorrect old addresses and wrong “name” entries helps you do that. If you have a common name, it’s not unusual for the credit bureaus to mix your credit information up with someone else’s.