The public record, which is sometimes called public information section is one of seven sections found in consumer’s credit reports. The public record section contains information about you that Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion find in state and county court and other records. This information may or may not be accurate. Later in this answer, I will show you where to find instructions on how to correct false information in your credit reports.
You may have noticed I referred several times to reports and not report. That is because consumers have separate credit reports at Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Each compete with each other in selling consumer information to lenders. Each are independent of the other two. This means you may have information about an account appearing in your Equifax credit report, but not your Experian or TransUnion reports. Or, the three may have the same misinformation about a rogue account in your name. Correcting misinformation at one will not correct the error at all. If the error appears at all three, you must go to the trouble of correcting the information three times.
Get Copies of Your Credit Reports For No Cost
Under state and federal law, Equifax, Experian, TransUnion and other, less well-known consumer credit reporting agencies (CRAs) must provide consumers with one copy of the contents of their credit report per year at zero cost. Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion set up the Web site AnnualCreditReport.com to comply with the law. Go to AnnualCreditReport.com and get a copy of each of your three credit reports. You may be offered extra services that cost $15 or so per month, but these are optional and you need not sign-up for anything to see your credit reports.
Review each of your three reports. You mentioned a public record. Look for the public record or public information section in your reports. This is usually found at the bottom of your reports. If any information is incorrect in your report, you can file a dispute with the CRA reporting the error. As mentioned above, these are Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
Mystery Credit Card: Simple Error or Identity Theft?
You mentioned a mysterious credit card with a balance of almost $2,000 appearing on one of your credit reports. There are two possible explanations for this charge: a mistake or identity theft.
Mistakes occur when a data entry clerk at Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion has incomplete information about the owner of an account, and guesses who the owner might be. Alternatively, a harried clerk working for a creditor may have selected the wrong "Mary Smith" and reported the wrong information to the CRAs. This is sort of like a reverse lottery — a clerk picked your name and you lose. If that happened here, disputing the account will remove it from your credit report.
But if the mystery account is due to identity theft, then you must take more actions to protect yourself. Identity theft is when someone uses your name and Social Security number to open accounts in your name. It is difficult to describe the difference between a CRA clerical error and identity theft. You will know it when you see it. A clerical error is one account. Identity theft leaves a trail of opened accounts indicating a pattern of intentional activity.
To dispute an error, visit the Bills.com Dispute a Credit Report page to learn the steps you can take to dispute an error on your credit reports. If you suspect you are an Identity Theft Victim, see the page I just mentioned to learn how to recover from this crime.
Just because a clerk made an error when adding information to a credit report does not make you responsible for repaying the debt. The same is true if you are an identity theft victim. In either event, take action to remove the errors from your credit report or reports.
I hope this information helps you Find. Learn & Save.