Complaints of Credit Report Errors Reached All-Time Highs During the Pandemic

by Brittney Myers | Updated July 21, 2021 - First published on March 1, 2021

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Credit report errors are at an all-time high. Have you checked your reports lately?

Very few of us have been at our best over the last year. It turns out that pandemics aren't so good for productivity. And it seems that the credit industry is no more immune to pandemic chaos than the rest of us -- as evidenced by the surge in credit report complaints.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has been tracking complaints of incorrect credit report information since they started receiving them in 2017. In that time, complaints have increased steadily each year. But the surge in 2020 was dramatic. More complaints were filed in 2020 alone than in the previous three years combined.

More than 200,000 credit report complaints filed in the last year

Even before the pandemic caused widespread lockdowns, there had already been a lot of credit report complaints in 2020. With over 10,000 complaints, January 2020 saw the highest single-month total since the CFPB began collecting data.

But complaints started to skyrocket once the pandemic was in full effect. The numbers increased rapidly throughout 2020 and hit record highs nearly every month. The current single-month record was in December when over 22,600 complaints were filed -- more than double the January high.

And it isn't getting better. It looks like there will be even more complaints of credit report mistakes in 2021. January 2021 saw over 18,000 complaints. While it's not as high as the record-breaking December, it's still nearly double the previous January.

The CFBP recorded a total of 204,140 credit report error complaints in the year beginning Feb. 28, 2020. Florida racked up the most complaints during that time, with 33,716 reports, but California and Texas both logged more than 20,000 complaints apiece.

How to get your free credit reports

It's hard to say what's behind the rash of complaints. The pandemic confusion could have led to more mistakes. Or more people may be challenging fair entries on their reports. Either way, it's always a good idea to keep an eye on your credit reports.

Luckily, it's pretty easy to get hold of your credit reports. Each of the three main credit reporting agencies -- Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion -- will keep a report on you. Normally, you're entitled to one free copy of each report every year through AnnualCreditReport.com. However, during the pandemic, you can receive a free weekly credit report through April 2021.

Reporting errors to the credit bureaus

Whether you're applying for a new credit card, a mortgage, or a personal loan, your credit score matters. Errors on your report can bring down your score, so it's important to get them fixed.

What should you look for on those free credit reports? Everything and anything. Look at every single account listed, both open and closed, to ensure you recognize it -- and that any reported balances are accurate.

If you see anything suspicious, like an account you don't remember opening, you can file a claim with the credit bureau. This can be done through the bureau's website, or by phone or mail. Here's how:

You'll need to file a separate report for each issue and with each bureau. So, if the same error shows up on all three of your credit reports, you'll need to submit three individual claims.

Although complaints of credit reporting errors are at all-time highs, the percentage of overall consumers who have experienced problems is still relatively small. Checking your reports regularly can help you spot any potential errors before they cause you issues with a lender.

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