The statement “Your credit file indicates you may have a mortgage loan” is presented as a question when you request a free credit report online at annualcreditreport.com, in order to verify your identity.
It is one of a series of common questions presented to you in a multiple choice format. If you select an incorrect answer, you will not be able to obtain your credit report through the online portal and you’ll have to use alternative methods.
The question or more appropriately, the statement, “Your credit file indicates you may have a mortgage loan”, is asked in order to identify the lender.
You must select a previous or current lender from the multiple choices provided. If you’ve never had a mortgage loan or do not see your lender in the list, select “None of the above”.
While it might seem odd, this question may be asked even if you’ve never previously had a mortgage loan.
They have been intentionally crafted to be misleading as part of the verification process. In the case when you’ve never owned loan, selecting “None of the above” ensures that you are letting them know you are aware of your credit history.
These verification tests can be challenging and imperfect. If you are unable to verify successfully as a result, you may obtain your credit report through alternative methods, such as:
- mailing in a form
- visiting the SSA office, or
- calling the credit bureau
Once you are able to acquire a copy of your report, verify that there are no inaccuracies as a result of human error or fraudulent activity which may have caused the verification check to fail in the initial instance.
Why do I need to answer identity verification questions to see my credit report?
The purpose of the verification questions is to provide an additional layer of security in order to prove your identity. It allows credit agencies the confidence beyond all reasonable doubt to provide you with access to sensitive material.
The identity verification process is common across all websites that offer credit report and related services, such as the official annualcreditreport.com, the three major bureaus, including Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, plus other consumer reporting agencies.
By presenting questions surrounding your credit history and details regarding past or present mortgage loans and/or other major accounts, these organizations help prevent identity theft.
Even if your personal information has been partially compromised, such as name, date of birth, or Social Security Number, the additional identity checks helps to mitigate any risk of unwanted access to your full credit report, which often includes past and current:
- Phone numbers
- Cars owned
- Loan history
- Credit accounts
Bad actors can leverage this additional information to impersonate you, answer other security questions, and further their fraudulent actions.
What happens if credit report verification questions ask about accounts I never opened?
If the security questions ask about an account you’ve never opened or an address you never lived in, you should answer truthfully, which can mean selecting “None of the above”.
Asking about accounts that never existed might seem like an ineffective way of verifying identity, but these questions are used to weed out those who don’t know your entire credit history.
For example, if you know you have never previously held a mortgage loan, an impostor who isn’t aware of your credit history will likely provide an incorrect answer.
The likelihood that they will select a lender is quite high, particularly if they are aware of another non-mortgage account in your credit history.
By incorrectly answering the question, the verification process will work as intended and minimize the chances of fraudulent access.
Regardless, the questions can be somewhat concerning, even possibly leading you to believe that someone may have opened an account in your name.
However, more often than not, the routine questions are intentionally misleading and should not be a cause for concern.
It is always wise to carefully review your credit report and verify that no one has opened any accounts in your name and that all the information is accurate, particularly if you have trouble verifying your identity.
What if I can’t get through the credit history verification process?
If you answer all of the questions truthfully, but you fail the process and therefore cannot access your credit report, there are alternative methods, including these three options:
- Mail in a credit report request form along with proof of identity, such as copies of your driver’s license, Social Security card, or other government-issued ID. The more documentation you provide, the more likely your request will be fulfilled without delay.
- Visit a local Social Security Administration office in person to obtain a verification code. Make sure to bring multiple forms of identification.
- Call the credit bureau or reporting agency directly to see if they can help you navigate the system and resolve the problem. If you need additional support, you can also call the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) at 1-855-411-2372.
This can be a frustrating situation to be in, but the procedure is put in place in order to limit access only to genuine requests and to keep away identity thieves with malicious intent.
What can prevent you from getting access to your credit report?
Once you are able to obtain a copy of your credit report by using the alternative methods, it’s critical to determine why your answers to the online verification questions were not sufficient enough to grant you access in the first place.
The restriction may be due to either of the following reasons:
- Your credit report contains incorrect information
- The questions they asked were misleading which caused you to answer incorrectly
- Your answer was not entirely accurate
One subject that seems to be full of misleading and/or incorrect information surrounds the people with whom you have previously lived.
Credit bureaus will typically use simplified residential information, causing the system to believe that you have lived with someone simply due to the fact that both of you resided at a common address within the same year, even despite the dates between which the residency took place, not necessarily overlapping.
Others have reported that the verification questions focused on incredibly old credit items, dating back more than 30 years.
This sort of information can be difficult to remember with accurate precision, and can therefore keep you from accessing your credit report altogether with some small mistake.
In rare cases, some consumers have found that the identity verification questions presented were not applicable to them, the cause of which may stem from system issues or fundamental problems such as entering your Social Security Number incorrectly.
Inaccurate information on your credit file
Once you gain access to a copy of your credit report, carefully review it to verify everything is accurate.
If you discover any incorrect, inaccurate or unusual information, take action to dispute and potentially correct it in order to protect the integrity of your credit history.
You may file a dispute with the credit bureau(s) by including details of the false information.
You may begin the process online, through the mail, or by phone. Once the formal dispute has been filed, the credit bureau will investigate and correct anything they determine is incorrect.
In some cases, the investigation may find that the information under dispute is in fact correct and therefore no action is taken. If you disagree with this resolution, you may choose to file yet another dispute.
If you believe someone has used your identity to open a credit account, you must take action to report and correct the fraudulent activity as follows:
- Contact each credit bureau to freeze your credit and place a fraud alert on your account.
- Visit IdentityTheft.gov to report the fraud and obtain an FTC Identity Theft Affidavit.
- File a report with the local police, and a dispute with any credit agency indicating the fraudulent account.
- Contact the creditor who opened the account to inform them of the fraud.
- Once resolved, closely monitor your credit and protect your accounts with complex passwords.