Learning how to know your Equifax file is split is an important step you can take to make sure you receive complete and accurate information whenever you request a copy of your report. When an Equifax file accumulates more information than it can fit onto one file, the file is automatically split into two files, each with their own credit score. Split files can be a result of a name mix-up where two people have the same name, as in a father and son, or in the case of a married and maiden name. Accounts with identical first and last names but a different middle initial can be erroneously listed on the wrong file, resulting in a split file. Mortgage lenders can pull a merged report that contains information from all three CRAs, but other creditors pull only one file and may not get an applicant’s complete credit history. This can result in an applicant being turned down for credit or being approved at a higher interest rate.
The following are signs your Equifax file may have been split:
- Missing accounts. For example, you opened a VISA account three years ago, yet the account is not showing on your current Equifax file.
- Unknown or missing addresses. Addresses are listed you do not recognize or addresses where you have lived are not listed at all result when your Equifax file has been split.
- Score discrepancies. Any discrepancy of over 30 points among your scores from all three reports could be an indication your Equifax file may have been split.
- There are accounts showing on your Equifax file that are not yours. This could simply be lender or creditor error or it could be a sign of identity theft.
It is always a good idea to get a copy of your credit file from all three CRAs to ensure your information is accurate and complete. You can get a free copy of your Equifax, TransUnion and Experian reports once a year at Annualcreditreport.com. While it may be convenient to dispute discrepancies on your Equifax file by phone or internet, doing so in writing provides a paper trail that could come in handy should your dispute process run into any snags.