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)