Germans in America: Fun Facts, Possible Problems

The story of German people in America is as old as the story of America itself. Most people know that immigrants from all over Europe flocked to the United States in the 1800s, but the German population here had some 200 years of American life under their belts by then. A few of the notable milestones marked by students of German-American history:

  • It was October 6, 1683, when Germantown, PA, was settled on the northern outskirts of Pennsylvania.
  • When the first U.S. Census was taken in 1790, Pennsylvania was home to 225,000 Germans—nearly one-third of the state’s entire population!
  • Following significant crop failures in southwestern Germany, circa 1816-1817, the U.S. saw an influx of immigrants numbering about 20,000.
  • In the 1950s and ‘60s, a total of 786,000 Germans came to the United States.

Today, there are over 42 million people of German ancestry in the U.S., accounting for approximately 13% of the entire population.

Common German Surnames

Of the top 10 German surnames, only three (Schmidt, Schultz, and Hoffman) do not end in -er. The most common names are as follows:

  1. Müller
  2. Schmidt
  3. Schneider
  4. Fischer
  5. Weber
  6. Meyer
  7. Wagner
  8. Becker
  9. Schultz
  10. Hoffman

Given how populous the German-American community is, folks with any of these last names probably aren’t surprised when their name gets mixed up with similar-sounding ones.

How Name Mix-Ups Can Cause Problems

If that’s ever happened to you, however, you must follow up to make sure that the mistake doesn’t cause serious problems—including a mixed-file error on your credit report. This happens when two people’s information becomes muddled, usually because they have the same or similar names.

Mixed-file errors might sound relatively innocuous, but they’re bad news. Any credit report error can wreak havoc with your credit score. A poor score makes it hard to rent an apartment, qualify for a mortgage, take out a car loan or a personal loan, or even have a bank account. It makes it harder to get good credit cards with low-interest rates and no annual fee. And digging out of these dire financial straits isn’t easy.

How German-Americans Can Guard Against These Errors

How can you stay on top of your credit reports and make sure your details haven’t been mixed up with anyone else’s? Check your credit reports carefully and frequently so that you know your score; if it changes drastically when your circumstances have not changed, that’s a sign that something’s gone awry. Look for any information that seems out of place—credit cards or store cards you don’t have, unfamiliar addresses, even small details like an incorrect middle initial.

If you see suspicious information or data you can’t account for, contact Adam Singer at the Credit Report Law Group. Legal assistance can be invaluable in getting credit report errors sorted out, restoring your good credit, and even obtaining compensation for your troubles. Call 212-842-2428 today.