While those with Arabic names may be used to having people make mistakes in addressing them (e.g., thinking that “bin” or “ben” is someone’s first or middle name), these errors can be more than a mild annoyance if they are on someone’s credit report. When that happens, it can have real consequences on their financial life by reducing their credit score. And that can lead to difficulty getting credit cards, loans, mortgages, or renting an apartment. Debt collectors may even harass them for debts that aren’t theirs.
So let’s explain how those with Arabic names are more likely to have these issues, how to protect yourself from these problems, and what to do if errors have occurred.
Arabic Naming Conventions Can Lead to Credit Report Errors
As any Arab knows, compared to the English tradition of a personal name and a family name, Arabic names are more complex. And it’s not just that they are longer than English names, with more elements. From an aspirational ism to their nisbah, Arabic names tell a person’s history. But these various elements may be incorrectly captured in a U.S. form with space only for first and last names and the occasional middle initial.
The result is you may get credit card offers in the mail addressed to “Al” as your first name, or maybe it’s “Dr.,” thinking “Md.” stands for a physician instead of Mohammed. Those solicitations come from a review of credit reports to identify eligible customers. So, when that misaddressed mail arrives, laugh, but then check your credit. It suggests there are errors in your credit report.
Watching for Credit Report Errors
As many as one-third of Americans have mistakes in their credit reports.
A common source of errors is a “mixed file,” when one person’s credit report includes someone else’s information.
Mixed files often occur when two people have the same name. Therefore those with common names such as Mohammed (and its many phonetic variations) are more vulnerable to mixed files. An estimated 150 million men around the world are named Mohammed—and the credit confusion is only heightened since it is used as both a first and last name.
Sometimes those with a mixed file can be strangers, but family members can have mixed files. In these cases, the people share more than their names. They may have the same addresses, so the information used to verify identities will be the same. So within-family mixed files can be challenging to correct.
That’s why it’s important to monitor credit reports. Federal law entitles every consumer in the U.S. to have one free credit report every twelve months, and it’s a wise practice to calendar that regular review of your credit. And if any problems arise, such as an expected denial of credit, check your credit report immediately.
If there are errors, correct them as soon as possible.
However, fixing these errors can be easier said than done. That’s why if you discover any errors with your credit report, contact an attorney specializing in representing clients like you. The Credit Report Law Group can only help you correct your credit record and obtain compensation for any damages you sustained.