Erroneous Public Records Data, Or: Who The Heck Is This Hipolito Guy?

Kathy has an unusual problem. She thinks that there might be a problem with some of her public records and/or her credit report, but she isn’t sure how to find out how it got there, let alone remove it. See, there’s a man named Hipolito, with the same relatively common last name as Kathy, who keeps popping up in public records questions used to verify her identity. She has no idea who this man is, and neither does anyone in her family.

I am stuck in a identity non-theft nightmare. About two weeks ago I file a claim for a damaged phone from Asurion. During the authentication process they asked me several questions about people that are linked to my public records (my parents, etc.). There were several questions about an Hipolito [Lastname], who I’ve never heard of, so I answered honestly that I had no idea who this person was. My claim was denied because I did not answer questions about this person accurately but they did accept me sending a fax of my ID’s as proof of identity. I thought it was strange but thought nothing more of it.

Yesterday I applied for a car loan at up2drive.com. I was approved for the limit I wanted at a great rate. I called to accept the terms and get the loan details and was put through a similar authentication procedure over the phone and again there were questions about this person I don’t know which I could not answer. I failed the authentication process and as a result I am not eligible to reapply for 90 days at which point they will likely ask me the same questions about this person I and no one in my family has ever heard of. They suggested I call Equifax, Social Security and my county public records department and see where and when this name became attached. Equifax said the name does not appear on my record (I had printed out my credit reports a couple of days prior to this anyway so I knew that) and all they could do was put a fraud alert on my file and send it to the other two reporting agencies. I called Social [Security], they said they could not track that down, to go to public records. I called my friend who works in the public records department and she searched everything with my name and this persons name and nothing comes up.

Short of hiring a lawyer (which I cannot afford) to track this person down or track down where in my public records this name occurred, I don’t know what to do. None of the companies that authenticated me have any specific information, I couldn’t even get the name of the company that gives them the questions to ask for authentication. I am stuck and have no idea where to go or what to do.

If I had to guess, I would say that somehow Kathy’s data has become enmeshed with that of another woman with the same name in public records databases. As I learned doing background checks at a former job, this happens quite often.

We’ve heard from other readers with similar issues—for example, being blocked from seeing credit reports after they were unable to verify details of a mortgage that they never took out.

Any advice for Kathy, and other readers with this problem? Where can people track down the source of erroneous data, and get it removed from their records to prevent headaches like these?

(Photo: juniorvelo)

Comments

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  1. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    I was told that one of the best ways of limiting the possibility of two peoples’ records being meshed together was to use first, middle, and last name on all documents. That clearly is moot here and whoever Hipolito is, If she wants to run a check or anything might find a Kathy and it may be easier for her to find the OP.

    • Veeber says:

      @pecan 3.14159265: Hasn’t really helped. While my wife was in college another student from the same state had an identical name except for the middle initial (K vs C). They both had student loans too. It looks like someone in the loan office got them mixed up and now her credit report has multiple residences throughout the mid-Atlantic, credit cards that don’t belong to her, and two social security numbers. The agencies still haven’t fixed it.

      • floraposte says:

        @Veeber: Somebody at my health care network has the same names and birthdate as me. The birthyear is different, but the different digits are a 2 for me and 7 for her, so they look alike if you look fast.

        So far, mixups have been minor, but I’ve asked for a note to be put into both her and my files to double-check ID because of the similarity.

      • FDCPAGuy says:

        @Veeber:

        Look at my post below. She’s got a mixed file. I’ve provided phone numbers to call and have the bureaus standardize her file.

    • nakedscience says:

      @pecan 3.14159265: Not everyone (me!) has a middle name. Thankfully my first+last name combo is pretty uncommon.

  2. hunter3742 says:

    I’ve got this issue with getting my credit report – the mortgage I never took out problem. I have my first, middle, and last name on all documents; however, I suspect that the problem revolves around the fact that there’s a guy who lives in the same town I do with the same first, middle, and last name (no relationship to me). Any advice on how to deal with that would be greatly appreciated.

    • missy070203 says:

      You can start by filing formal disputes with all three credit reporting agencies and when you do these disputes do not just fill in the blanks on the standard print out from the agency site….hand write clearly in blue ink on yellow lined legal size paper your complete situation and include documentation for the accounts that do actually belong to you, verification of current and prior addresses etc. hand writing it on legal paper forces them to send it to another area of the department where someone will actually have to read your response and make a descision based on the information you’ve provided. be clear and accurate and be sure to include what you expect from your dispute filing ie; you expect that all records not belonging to you be reported to the proper owner and that your credit file only show credit and history that belongs to you as it rightfuly should…

    • Absent minded or just absent says:

      @hunter3742: I was recently asked about a mortgage I never took out while looking at my credit report. After staring at the screen for a few minutes I answered that none of the names listed held my mortgage that I didn’t have. Apparently that was the right, though confusing, answer. Have you tried the none of the above approach?

    • mariospants says:

      @hunter3742: Simple: kill him and assume his wife, car, kids, house and all belongings. It’s not like as if anybody can prove you aren’t the same person without… fixing the records.

  3. Andrew Briscoe says:

    Ultimately these records are coming from database companies such as Lexus Nexus.

  4. Daniel Goniea says:

    I am fairly certain that the most commonly used company for these identity questions is Lexis-Nexis. They collect public records and compile them for easy access for those willing to pay. For example: You want to board an aircraft without ID, they will use the Lexis-Nexis service to generate three questions about who you are to make sure the proper person is being let onto the plain.

    Check out their website: [www.lexisnexis.com]

    • LiquidGravity says:

      @Daniel Goniea: So your saying for a price I can have personal data on anyone I want and then board an aircraft as them just by knowing that data. Yep, no way there could ever be a problem with that kind of system.

      • FDCPAGuy says:

        @LiquidGravity:

        You should see the scary tools and info they have on Accurint… LexisNexis’s main product is just the tip of the iceberg.

        • tdatl says:

          @FDCPAGuy:

          That’s what I’m thinking it is, also. They’ll now give you a copy for free if you fill out a form. My wife and I each got one to see what’s listed & it’s just unreal. I have a fairly common last name (among 10 most common) and they have people with the same last name that I’ve never heard of listed as possible relatives and/or associates. Pages & pages of this. Then they’ll tie in addresses associated with those people, phone numbers, etc. You live somewhere & move — well, they’ll list whoever’s there now as a possible associate. When you’ve had 10+ addresses in a single decade like both of us had, it becomes absolutely insane how inaccurate much of it is.

  5. Snakeophelia says:

    My last name is specific to the area in South Carolina in which I grew up. Thanks to Google, Facebook, and my nephew’s yearbooks, I know that there are at least three other women out there with my same first and last name, one of whom has my same middle name as well. And at least one of them is a deadbeat, as I discovered when I got an irate call from a collections agency about a SC-based loan that was default. Clearly, he’d just done a nationwide search of phone numbers listed to anyone with that name.

    Luckily, I’m quite a bit older than all of my doppelgangers, but I still check my credit reports religiously.

    • nakedscience says:

      @Snakeophelia: “And at least one of them is a deadbeat”

      Yes, because clearly, when someone defaults on a loan, they are automatically a deadbeat.

      • outoftheblew says:

        @nakedscience: American Heritage Dictionary considers a deadbeat to be one who does not pay one’s debts. Sounds pretty clear to me that this person is automatically a deadbeat.

  6. chgoeditor says:

    Don’t just talk to Equifax. The erroneous info might be on Experian or Transunion’s reports.

  7. DjDynasty says:

    Those “Authentications” are done by Lexis Nexis, Call them, tell them you want all connections about you completely removed from their data base. They keep giving me crap about cars I supposedly owned, but none of them are correct. They claim it’s from the DMV but I’ve never owned any of the ones they keep listing.

  8. Anonymous says:

    As noted above, mostly likely the information came from a LexisNexis search, however, if the company you are applying for a loan with doesn’t want to disclose who they use, ask them if the have a written privacy policy. If they do, ask them to send you a copy.

    Most companies who use these types of searchs also disclose information about you to the same sources. If the company you are trying to do business with has a privacy policy, most likely it has a clause that allows you to ask for who they disclose information to. You can then begin by asking for that information and then contacting those companies to see about clearing up your records.

  9. Jim Topoleski says:

    I actually had this happen despite having a very uncommon last name. For whatever reason back in 2000 information for me kept getting mixed up with some guy in south jersey. Took me years of rectifying with the 3 agencies and the state even though it didn’t particularly effect me one way or another.

    The wackiest one was where I opened a credit card and closed it a week later. THAT was fun to get removed.

  10. shepd says:

    Had a similar, but far less life troubling experience with Radio Shack back in the day when they wanted everyone’s postal code and name.

    Guess what? Someone in my town had the EXACT SAME NAME as me. Everytime I’d buy something at Radio Shack I’d give them my postal code and name (I know I could have avoided it, but it became a game!). The wrong record would come up and they’d then have to erase the record in there and put in my postal code instead (yeah, I don’t know why either, but it happened religiously when I gave my name). I wonder how many times my name came up in exception reports… :D

    This went on until the other guy either gave up or left town, because eventually I didn’t have to go past the name part of the questions. And then, about a year later or so, Radio Shack gave up asking the questions (And a couple of years after that went bust and was bought by Circuit City, and the shell of the company is now owned by, of all people, Bell Canada).

    The worst of it all is my last name isn’t even all that common of a spelling (although MINE is the one in the dictionary) although it is a perfectly common english word. There’s 10 people with my spelling in town, and about 100 with it spelled wrong. It is fun, though, to watch my wife now have do what I have to do every time I’m on the phone: Spell a simple english word, letter by letter, 4 or more times to get the agent to avoid using their (bad) spelling. In person, I just hand them my CC and tell them to copy it off that (And even then I’ve had my name appear improperly on bills, seriously).

    • lolan64 says:

      @shepd: I’m guessing Shepherd vs. Shepard from your username? That must be annoying. :)

    • kbrook says:

      @shepd: I seriously have more trouble with people not understanding Hubby’s last name (common four letter English word fercryinoutloud!) than with mine, a seven letter Dutch one. Why? No bloody clue.

      • bluewyvern says:

        @kbrook: Ooh, this is fun. I’m going to guess Hood and Van Eyck.

        Did I win?

      • Jessica Haas says:

        @kbrook: Omg, I know!! It’s almost always Hass and I fucking hate it. People have more trouble spelling Haas than Chapdelaine (my SO’s last name).

        They even spelled it wrong on my ID!

    • bibliophibian says:

      @shepd: I might be able to top this (oh no, I’m Topper from Dilbert! ugh!) – for the last 10 years that my son has been in public schools, I have received mail addressed to me as, let’s say,

      Dilbertessa (MaidenName) (Son’sLastName)

      For the last five years, neither “Dilbertessa” nor “Son’sLastName” have been my legal names. I changed my last name legally, and decided while I was at it to go ahead and drop the first name that I have never voluntarily used, ever in my life, and change my legal first name to the (middle) name I have used since birth. I have submitted copies of the court order at least twice every school year, filled out countless forms, made dozens of phone calls, and finally given up and just accepted that they are going to have me in their records as “Dilbertessa Son’sLastName” until hell freezes over.

      BUT.
      The real problem is with the “MaidenName” that they’re insisting on using as my middle name. It’s not such a problem in and of itself, but – the name starts with “Mc.” Ever since his first day of kindergarten, the “Mc” has been misspelled as “Dick.” So instead of “McConnell” (for instance) I am listed as “DickConnell.”

      I have no idea.

      For the last six or seven years, I’ve probably deserved it, because I have to fill out dozens of papers every year – identical to the papers I filled out the LAST year – and when I ask why they can’t just use the same forms/info, I’m always told that they have to “make sure everything is up to date and accurate.” I then always ask if this means that THIS year they’re going to fix the errors in my name, which haven’t been fixed in any of the previous (x) years despite my submitting the correct information and making numerous attempts to get them corrected, and what is the point of them telling me it’s “to make sure the records are up to date” when I have 9 years of proof that those records never get changed come hell or high water.

      So yeah, for the last couple of year, I can see that I might have earned the “Dick” part of the name. But where it came from initially it utterly beyond me.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I really hate to say this but most likely if OP is hispanic then an illegal alien has been using her social security number. I would know as this happened to me before. I had collections billsfrom various services in Gerogia ( I live in NC). Turns out an illegal alien had been working with my social security number for the last two years. He even got DirectTv, home phone service and home electric service with it. Don’t even bother trying to get the social security adminstration for help.They are totally useless when it comes to these types of things, I had to learn this the hard way. I ended up driving to Georgia and I went to the address Directtv had onfile as the service address. I even showed up at this person’s employer, they only talked to me because I brought the a local police detective. Alas, I was to late he was tipped off I was coming and took off back to Mexico. Before anybody jumps in and says it was identity theft, it was’t. This guy was using my social security number with his name. The unbeliveable part is he worked at large multinational company and got alot of services with my social yet it didn’t match his name. Directtv wouldn’t admit he gave them my social until I threatened legal action. The problem is if some is using your social for basic services pulling a credit report does not help unless they go into collections.

    • xredgambit says:

      @FeodoraBulbus: Sue the company for never paying you for your work.
      They have time sheets and everything.
      But you never got a paycheck.

      It’s a brilliant Idea.

  12. dmuth says:

    Have you gone to your local police department and filed a report with them?

    While it is unclear if identity theft took place, you can remind the police that you have suffered damages (being unable to get a loan), and ask them to treat it as a case of identity theft.

    Good luck!

  13. rick_in_texas says:

    This is probably an illegal immigrant. Almost sure it is in your SSN records and your “secondary” credit report.

    First off as a Hispanic American (family from South America) I can tell you the HIPOLITO name is a male name. Secondly I bet your poster is Latin and/or has a Latin last name. Thus someone has been tied into their records. This is going to cause her problems. She will need to report to SSN that someone is using her SSN.

    Good Luck,
    Rick

    • nakedscience says:

      @rick_in_texas: Uuuh, did you miss everyone above saying that this is a really common problem? Just because someone has a Hispanic name and their records are being confused with someone else’s doesn’t mean they are an illegal immigrant.

      • rick_in_texas says:

        @nakedscience:

        Hence the reason I said PROBABLY. I don’t know for sure. It has happened to me (My real name is RICARDO).

        Please read before commenting.

    • FDCPAGuy says:

      @rick_in_texas:

      Sorry Rick. This doesn’t mean her SSN is being used. The bureaus don’t need a SSN match to put anything on your credit. They can use name and geographic matches for many items which is why stuff like this happens.

    • GearheadGeek says:

      @rick_in_texas: Another potential explanation for Kathy X is that there’s another Kathy X, married to Hipolito X, with some similar data point (account with a particular company, possibly even living in a different apartment in the same complex at some point in time, etc.)

  14. Blueskylaw says:

    I am more curious as to what kind of a “great” rate she managed to get from a site called up2drive?

  15. FDCPAGuy says:

    Ah something I deal with on a daily basis for work… yay.
    There are 2 ways this could happen one is Lexis Nexis gets it on there due to a name similarity and the other is that the bureaus actually have a mixed file for the person.

    Step 1: Do a consumer dispute on it.
    Step 2: If it doesn’t come off call the court and get the initial complaint and satisfaction if it is one.
    Step 3: Call the Exec Customer Service #s here and talk to them and provide them documentation.

    For merged files you need to have the bureaus Standardize your info:
    TU: 714-738-3800 x 8800
    EFX: 800-965-9653
    XPN: Pull from annualcreditreport.com and call the number for XPN on that report.

  16. nybiker says:

    Give [www.pipl.com] a shot. They search the deep stuff, so it’s possible you might get a hit for where this other person actually is and, who knows, you can contact her.

    • carolynkline says:

      @nybiker: I would like to thank you for that link. I looked myself up, hubby up, and showed a co-worker this link. It was scary how it brought up my amazon.com wish list, my twitter account info, some posts I’ve made on other sites, and when it said to search by other names (like nick names or initials, it brought up even more stuff about me.

      Co-worker was also surprised. Brought up her facebook account with her photo. Mine’s private.

      I’m working now to have some of my records to be removed (like whitepages.com, and zabasearch.com). I don’t like too much stuff out about me floating around on the ‘net. (except if it’s on the Consumerist haha :) )

      • nybiker says:

        @carolynkline: Glad I could help. I actually heard about the site because of a story here on Consumerist where the OP mentioned using it. When I checked it out, well, I was floored. As you saw, it aggregates quite a bit of data.

    • Jessica Haas says:

      @nybiker: That. Is. Creepy.

      And jesus, I had no idea there were so many Jessica Haas… *shudder*

  17. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    Why don’t we employ the Consumerist Hive Mind and track down this Hipolito for the OP? Who’s got a few hours of work they can put off and do this?

  18. SoCalGNX says:

    Equifax recently decided to give me a middle name. I don’t have one. I have to prove it to them that I don’t have one instead of them actually looking at more than 20 years of records on their end showing I don’t have a middle name.
    Record keepers in this society are basically lazy b******s.

    • econobiker says:

      @SoCalGNX: Maybe they could give you a middle name to something that would either.

      A. Generate income for you: FirstName GoldenPalaceGamblingPlace LastName

      or

      B. Be offensive to most people. First Name KillandEatBabies Lastname or FirstName CurseWord LastName.

      Source of neverending fun…

    • Looseneck says:

      @SoCalGNX:

      One of the three agencies decided I was a Jr. even though my first name has never in the history of the world been used as a man’s name.

  19. dham says:

    I couldn’t get my credit report for a long time because I had moved so often as student that I couldn’t figure out what my previous address was in the credit bureau’s reporting. Even after I figured out what addresses they had on file, they kept asking me questions about my father’s mortgage in the security questions because one of my addresses was his.

    It took waiting until I had enough of my own credit history and a few years in apartments of my own for me to know the answers to the security questions. This was particularly annoying when I saw my landlord run the report in 5 seconds on his office computer without having to answer any security questions at all. Luckily, I wound up having good credit despite never having been able to look at my report.

  20. mac-phisto says:

    check out innovis. –> [www.innovis.com]

    this is the “super secret” 4th bureau. you are entitled to a report from them, but notice how you can’t order one online – you have to print out a form & request it via mail.

    why is innovis important? they are the primary repository for freddie mac/fannie mae/sallie mae, delinquent debts to the feds & public records. information from innovis actually bleeds onto your other 3 reports – this is why sometimes fixing errors with the big 3 doesn’t fix them permanently.

    here’s an article from bankrate that explains a little more about them –> [www.bankrate.com]

    & if you’re too lazy to click thru, here’s the important info:

    Innovis became a major player at the beginning of 2001, when mortgage financing titans Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac began requiring their mortgage servicers to report borrowers’ payment histories to the Houston-based credit repository. Fannie Mae requires servicers to notify Innovis of delinquencies and foreclosures; Freddie Mac requires servicers to tell Innovis about every borrower’s payment status, current or late.

    The federal government reports to Innovis about individuals who are late with debt payments to the feds.

    • jeffbone says:

      @mac-phisto: Interesting. No indication in the Bankrate article as to why Innovis isn’t covered under the FCRA yearly free credit report requirement, even though they have potentially the same impact on your life as the “Big Three”. Something to write your Congressional reps about, perhaps?

    • econobiker says:

      @mac-phisto: And Certegy is another place that can give you a credit report.

      We had a check declined at a national sized tire retailer by Certegy. If you search for Certegy Check Services you will find many complaints about that service.

      [www.fidelityinfoservices.com]

      They also had an ex-employee busted for id theft and didn’t do alot to help afterward:

      [www.sptimes.com]

      • mac-phisto says:

        @econobiker: yeah – for checkwriting/banking, the certegy link you provided & chexsystems –> [www.consumerdebit.com] are the places to go.

        a little tidbit about fidelity info services (FIS): they are the world’s largest technology provider for banks. as in, if you use a bank (or a credit union), there’s a better than average chance that your data is housed on their servers somewhere.

        & they were breached. awesome!

  21. Anonymous says:

    Can’t you sue the people who denied you the loan?

    Take them to small claims court, and point out that their use of an incompetent and unknown agency has made it more difficult for you to legitmately conduct your business. And point out that they are failing to give you the information you need to correct this problem.

    Additionally, call your state Attorney General. On a certain level, this amounts to deceptive business practices. They’re making a loan conditional on your ability to provide incorrect and false information to them. It actually doesn’t matter if this is intentional, if you can demonstrate that their incompetence amounts to bad faith. And you can show that bad faith by pointing out that the company is NOT giving you the information you need to rectify this situation–they’re not even telling you the company they use so you can go after them and fix the problem.

    If you take the small claims route, sue everybody for damages. If, for instance, interest rates went up between the time you first applied for the car and when you had to re-apply, you can sue them for that money. As well as, obviously, the time and inconvenience, or any repairs you had to do to your existing car to render it drive-able, the depreciation on your current car, etc. etc. etc.

    If a company is denying you credit based on false and inaccurate information, they are materially damaging your ability to do function in society, everything from making purchases at fair rates to even getting a job. We simply can’t tolerate this, and we should not have to.

  22. ridbaxter says:

    I had a similar thing happen to me, during an authentication process I was repeatedly asked about someone whose first and last name I didn’t recognize at all. To my embarrassment, it turned out to be my dad’s wife: they meet, dated and married when I was in my late 20s and living halfway across the state. She never uses her first name; goes by a nickname instead, and I never knew her last name before Dad married her 20 years ago. Oy.

  23. runchadrun says:

    I have a very common last name. A few years back I tried opening a new bank account but it was rejected because I came up on ChexSystems as someone who writes a lot of bad checks. Upon further inquiry I was told that it was from “my” Bank of America account in Modesto, even though I had never been either inside a BofA branch or in Modesto. (I have since been to both, and don’t recommend either.) A friend of mine who worked for BofA was able to look me up and found that the person flagged had both the same name and last four digits of SSN as me. I had to write a letter to ChexSystem and explain this to them, and they managed to fix their database hash so I wouldn’t get flagged again.

  24. GiantMonster says:

    My first and last names aren’t that common, but they’re the same as my father’s. When I first did a credit check, the Big Three had us combined in different ways: my birthdate and his credit cards, his birthdate and my current address. Complicating things I’m sure was the fact that we had the same address for two decades, him being my dad and all.

    It’s mostly sorted out now, but I’m sure he had it worse off than me. It’s better to be a dopey recent college grad confused with someone with decades of excellent credit than vice-versa.

    Seing as how Juniors, II’s and III’s aren’t exactly rare, I’m sure this is pretty common.

    • sponica says:

      @GiantMonster: my mom and all her sisters had the same first and last name (until they got married)…some irish catholic tradition or something. It made dodging telemarketers easy…oh mary’s not here.

  25. Anonymous says:

    This is a common problem.

    When a government record reports something, it often does not have complete identifying information. For example, property records rarely have SS# or DOB information. As a result, when the private vendors report public record information to the Credit Reporting Agencies (like Equifax), they sometimes link that information to the wrong credit file.

    In addition, CRAs often have AKA (also known as) names and addresses on your credit file that are completely wrong, and sometimes incorrectly assume that two people who have different names but the same former address are the same people, and so they merge the two files.

    It is also possible that this other person is using the poster’s SS# (illegal aliens often use legitimate social security numbers with their own names) with his or her own name.

    Without more information, it’s impossible to tell what’s happening for sure. The person should immediately request a free copy of their credit report from all three credit bureaus using the form at http://www.annualcreditreport.com. Since you can’t answer the verification questions, you’ll have to send a written request in and wait for the credit report to come by mail.

    As soon as the reports arrive, immediately dispute all incorrect names, addresses, and credit entries. At the same time, put a security freeze on all three credit reports, so that nobody can open new lines of credit using your SS# without your permission. I have instructions on how to do that at my blog (andersonlaw.blogspot.com).

    In the end, the bureas will likely ignore the dispute or fail to investigate it property, and you’ll have to hire a lawyer to file a lawsuit for violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The good news is that once they get sued, they usually offers to correct the problems quickly. You can find a lawyer who specializes in FCRA actions at http://www.naca.net