Heather Rose, California Mom, Catches $16,000 Mistake On Credit Report

12/12/2012 11:28am ET

One woman’s horror story is enough to make you check your credit report as often as you check your email.

Heather Rose, a mother of three who lives in Roseville, Calif., found a $16,159 error on her credit report, CBS Sacramento reports. Unaware of the large error on her report, Rose claims that she has been denied credit cards in the past without knowing the exact reason.

The mistake came in the form of a court judgement from a credit card she never had. Money from the judgment was awarded to Chase Manhattan Bank in 2007, so Rose decided to contact the bank to address the issue.

But her problems really began when, according to Rose, Chase refused to deal with her case. Rose then turned to two major credit bureaus -- TransUnion and Equifax -- which also never answered her disputes. She then got the local media involved and soon after, Chase issued her a letter stating that there was no judgment against her. The credit bureaus then took the judgment off her report.

If Chase and the credit agencies continued to refuse to help Rose, her last line of defense would have been the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Created by the Dodd-Frank act of 2010, the CFPB is designed to protect consumers from predatory lending and other misleading banking practices. In October, the agency launched an online portal that allows Americans like Rose to more easily submit a credit report complaint.

Initial findings indicate that a watchdog committee for credit reporting is long overdue. A study by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group found that 79 percent of credit reports contained some kind of error. That said, the accuracy of credit card reports is disputed, and other organizations have found that only 25 percent of reports have errors.

Another issue is that about 20 percent of consumers purchasing a credit score from a reporting agency are likely to receive a significantly different number than a potential lender would see, according to a September CFPB report. The discovery has lead the agency to start looking more closely at the largest credit reporting companies and their practices.

Close to half of Americans have absolutely no idea what their credit score is, according to a study of 2,200 people. Younger people seem to be the most in the dark about their credit, with 60 percent of those polled between the ages of 18 to 34 reporting that they are completely unaware of their score.

One of the best ways to avoid a mistake on your credit report is to recognize and avoid scam companies that promise to improve your credit for you, according to the Federal Trade Commission. If you do find a mistake in your report, the best way to fix it is to order copies of your current report, file the dispute with the reporting agency filing the report and then get the CFPB involved if the error persists.

The Worst And Best States For Credit