FREMONT, Calif. -- Think about everything your credit report does for you; it makes getting a bank account possible, as well as buying a car and even getting a job. So what happens if the worst happens?
Lisa Marie Allen said she fought for years to get her credit files straightened out.
"I got hired for a job and they asked to do a credit check on me and I said 'no problem.' And they called me and said you have 10 negative accounts on your credit report and I said 'no way, there is no way.' I only have two credit cards, so that's when I initially thought it was identity theft," said Allen.
Oh, if it were only that easy; turns out there were two people with the same Social Security number. There is a Lisa Marie Allen in Fremont, California and Lisa Marie Allen in Texas. The Lisa in Texas had all those red flags on her credit report.
"Over all it was over $350,000 that was on my credit report that I was in debt for and none of it was mine," said Allen.
"So you were making her look good," said KGO-TV reporter Michael Finney.
"Real good," said Allen.
"And she was making you look bad," said Finney.
"Real bad," said Allen.
Eventually Social Security got it all sorted out, but not the credit reporting agencies. From them, Allen says, she got the run around.
"It is funny but it's not. I laugh at how ridiculous they are. The sheer ridiculous way they perform their business. They would ask for my credit report, so I would go online and try to pull," said Allen.
"Wait a second, a credit reporting agency asked you for a credit report?" asked Finney.
"Yes, they told me through a letter," said Allen. "It is absurd, absolutely absurd."
And that is how Allen got to know attorney Mark Anderson.
"The process in her case was a joke. It absolutely was. It frustrated her immensely. It messed up her life. She couldn't get a car loan in her name, she couldn't get a bank account," said Anderson.
He says by the time he filed the lawsuit, TransUnion had unmixed Allen's file, but Experian and Equifax had not. He says all three eventually settled.
"And more important, maybe, they fixed Lisa's credit for good," said Anderson.
KGO-TV, the ABC News affiliate in San Francisco, asked the credit reporting agencies to talk about this, but all of them said via email that they do not comment on legal matters.
Allen's problem is solved, but what about the big picture?
This phenomenon is so common there is a name for it -- it is called a 'mixed file,'" said Chi Chi Wu, National Consumer Law.
Wu said usually the Social Security numbers aren't exactly the same, but very close. Still, Wu says, it shouldn't take an attorney to sort these cases out.
"Once she started disputing that she was not the other Lisa then the credit reporting agencies should have been able to quickly correct this," said Wu.
Which brings us back to Allen.
"I have never had to hire a lawyer for anything in my life and if I hadn't hired a lawyer I would still be fighting this, absolutely," she said.
KGO-TV attempted to reach out to the other Lisa Marie Allen, but received an email saying "I have no idea who you're talking about but this has nothing to do with me."
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