A Washington man was far from happy to find credit reports in his mailbox that were apparently intended for a bunch of strangers. To make matters worse, he says he can’t get access to his own report to make sure there aren’t unexpected debts attached to his credit history.
The recipient of these troublesome missives had contacted Equifax in an effort to clean up his credit earlier this year, and instead received dozens of envelopes for three days in a row, filled with strangers’ credit reports. Letters attached to the reports informed him that he owed a long list of debts.
“Ten or 15 student loans, 10 houses, many cars; I’m starting to really freak out,” he told the news station.
Then in March, he got another letter from Equifax, saying that the company had “inadvertently mailed” certain consumer information to incorrect individuals. The mixup was due to a “technical error,” the company said, and there had been no evidence of any criminal wrongdoing. The letter also asked for the papers to be returned, which the man sent through his lawyer.
Since then, he says he’s tried to get his credit report from Equifax — you know, just in case those strangers are still haunting his records — but that Equifax hasn’t come through.
“I want everything cleared. I mean, there are hundreds of pages, and each page says I’m responsible for everything. As far as I know, it’s still on my credit,” he said.
Equifax, when asked how such foolishness could happen, replied as follows:
“Earlier this year, a technical error of short duration caused certain consumer information to be released to an isolated number of other individuals. We conducted a full investigation, identified the individuals who had received this information,” including the man who received all those credit reports, “and retrieved it,” Equifax said. “We contacted all impacted consumers to whom the information belonged and have mitigated this situation.”
The man has now hired an attorney to help him file a lawsuit against Equifax, accusing it of violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
“We can be pretty sure that whatever procedures they have in place are not reasonable to protect the accuracy of our information,” she said.
Such “inadvertent errors” are nothing new. Loan servicer Ocwen has been known to send out loan modification packages to borrowers who did not request them, and then pester the borrowers for not returning the completed application. When pressed for an explanation, Ocwen, like Equifax, could do little better than point to an “inadvertent error” accompanied by a bit of indignation that a consumer had had the temerity to challenge them.