5 On Your Side

Check Credit Reports To Avoid Costly Mistakes

Posted July 29, 2004

— Buying a house can be stressful. First you have to find the home, then work out financing.

During the process, your credit report is key. David and Lesa Locklear found that out the hard way just days before closing on their new home.

The Locklears searched months for just the right house. When they found it, everything went fine until a few days before closing.

Their loan officer found something on David's credit report: a lien of more than $95,000. It turns out, the lien belonged to a different David Locklear.

"His Social Security number begins 241, mine begins 242. His birthday is 3/11/58. My birthday is 7/7/58," Locklear said.

At one point, the two even lived in the same town.

"[It's] kind of a sinking feeling, because you realize at this point that, you know, that's not me. Why is it on my credit report?" he said.

The loan officer proved the lien did not belong to this David Locklear, but clearing his credit report could take 90 days. The Locklears did not have 90 days, so they had to change their financing, pay extra fees and get two loans.

"We're there at the last minute thinking we're about to be handed the keys to our dream house and then instead we're handed a much higher interest rate. It was like what did we do wrong here?" Lesa Locklear said.

The Locklears called Five On Your Side to get the word out about the importance of checking credit reports from all three credit reporting agencies. They only checked one. The problem only showed up in the other two.

Once the two credit reporting agencies have everything cleared up, the Locklears may refinance their home. It all depends on what interest rates are at that point and whether the costs involved are worth it.

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