KANSAS CITY, Mo. - We hear it all the time, especially in this age of security breaches at retail stores; check your credit report.
Jacob Foy of Kansas City, Kan., tried to do that, but could not.
Foy says he repeatedly tried to get a copy of his credit report from the so called big three bureaus: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion, but was denied.
Foy says he learned his credit report had an error on it. Instead of Foy, the bureaus knew him as Jacob O'Malley.
"After I filed complaints with the Federal Trade Commission and the Attorney General, that's when I decided I better contact Call For Action too," Foy said.
Foy believes the error kept him from buying a car, taking out credit, and even getting a job.
He said, "I've been denied by Discover; Got denied by Visa."
He is not alone
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau hears from consumers who have issues with their credit reports.
The federal agency was established in 2010 following the financial meltdown to "identify dangerous and unfair financial practices, educate consumers about these practices, and regulate the financial institutions that perpetuate them."
MoPIRG Foundation, a consumer advocacy group, analyzed 10,000 consumer complaints the CFPB received since October, 2012, when the federal agency began collecting the complaints.
Here's how some of the complaints breakdown:
65% - Consumers noted incorrect information on their credit report.
14.4% - Consumers complained about inadequate help over the phone, investigations that take too long, and problems with statements.
12% - Consumers were unable to get their free annual credit reports.
Jacob Foy says he fell into that group, saying, "Unfortunately, it's lead me to near homelessness."
The big three credit reporting agencies were the subject of the majority, or 96 percent, of the consumer complaints.
Here is the breakdown:
Experian - 38%
Equifax - 33%
TransUnion - 25%
Credit reporting agencies are making improvements
Why so many complaints, especially at a time when consumers are being advised to carefully check over their credit reports? Experian points to the data it receives from credit card and job applications, car loans and mortgages.
"We are working with the CFPB, and we are not happy about the high complaint numbers either," said Rod Griffin, Experian spokesman.
Credit reporting bureaus are taking steps to improve the way consumers can dispute errors and correct mistakes by making it easier for them to upload documents online.
"We now upload and provide every document that a consumer sends you so that goes directly to the lender. Everything you send us goes to the source of information," he adds.
Why you should check your credit report
Consumers are allowed to get a free credit report from each of the three agencies, Equifax, Eperian and TransUnion. It is important to get into a routine of checking yours, especially in an age of high profile data breaches. An error could lower your score which can cost you money.
A person who wants to buy a $200,000 will pay a different interest rate depending on their credit score.
Credit Score Interest Rate Payment (P&I) Total interest over 30 years
740 4.375% $998 $159,485
640 4.750% $1,043 $175,586
To receive a free credit report, visit www.annualcreditreport.com . If you find errors in your credit report, the agencies want to hear from you. You can also contact the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.