A house hunter was left panicking that she would lose out on a home purchase after being denied a mortgage after a credit reference agency mixed her up with her twin.
Laura Heaps, 36, who currently lives in Ellesmere Port, near Chester, moved back in with her parents after selling her home in November.
She had put down a £500 deposit to reserve a new build home with property developer Redrow, and to purchase it would need to show proof of mortgage.
A credit report mix-up with her twin sister left Laura Heaps struggling to buy a new home
Not believing this would be a problem after previously having an excellent credit score, she was left stunned when told it wasn’t that great after all by a mortgage adviser – denying her a home loan.
Despite having taken out four previous mortgages, she was told by her adviser that she would not qualify for one due to a poor Equifax report.
This included a defaulted account and several payments in arrears.
She said she was ‘shocked’ when she heard this, and went onto CheckMyFile to double-check.
When she downloaded a snapshot of her Equifax report, she told This is Money she was ‘horrified to discover that they had recorded my twin sister’s credit details on my report’, despite her having a different first name and first initial.
The report included a default on a Barclaycard account from 2015, as well as other accounts including an MBNA card, a Next store credit account and an O2 phone contract, all taken out in her sister’s name.
Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito as separated at birth brothers Julius and Vincent Benedict, in 1988 comedy Twins
This is despite the fact Laura said she had never held a Barclaycard, let alone defaulted on one.
The default was settled in 2015 and the account closed that November, but the record can remain on your credit report for as long as six years, and wreck your credit score, which is why Laura was told she wouldn’t be eligible for a mortgage.
Laura Heaps was declined a mortgage after Equifax mistakenly put a default suffered four years ago by her twin sister on her credit report
She also found that when she went to Chester to open a HSBC joint bank account with her partner, she was declined for it.
She tried to ring Barclaycard about the issue, who in turn told her to speak to Equifax.
However, she did not have an account with the rating agency, only one with CheckMyFile, so they wouldn’t speak to her until she opened one.
She said: ‘No one was taking any responsibility. As my property is due to be released at any time, I fear we will lose the home, due to absolutely no fault of our own.
‘All I want is for my credit rating to be shown in its true light immediately. We have always paid our bills and mortgage on time and cannot believe this has happened to us.’
Other credit also registered in the name of her sister, who has a different initial, ended up on her Equifax report. The rating agency apologised and said it had corrected the mistake
Under Section 159 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974, any wrong entry on your credit file must be amended or removed within 28 days of the agency or lender being notified.
A survey of just over 1,000 people by consumer group Which? at the start of December found a fifth of those who had checked their credit report found an error on it.
In this instance it appears that the sisters’ shared surname and date of birth caused the information for each to be loaded to the others report
When This is Money raised Laura’s case with Equifax, it told us it was sorry for the mistake, and that it had fixed the situation as of 6 December.
It said in a statement: ‘The company’s matching systems are designed to ensure that information relating to an individual is provided in their own credit report and for when a search is conducted by a company.
‘In this instance it appears that the sisters’ shared surname and date of birth caused the information for each to be loaded to the others report.’
This indicates that all twins could potentially fall foul of this potential problem.
‘Equifax was first notified of the case when Ms Heaps raised an enquiry via Checkmyfile. In order to resolve the issue Equifax loaded a Notice of Disassociation to its database.
‘This process ensures that all of the information for Ms Heap and her sister is separated, and prevents any potential re-occurrence of this issue.
‘Equifax responded to CheckMyFile to advise the Notice of Disassociation was actioned and requested for it to process an updated report for Ms Heaps to show that all information for her twin sister was removed from her file.
‘CheckMyFile processed an updated report and responded to Ms Heaps on 6 December 2019 to confirm that all of her sister’s information had been removed.
‘Equifax would like to reassure Ms Heaps that she has taken the correct steps to get this resolved.
‘Whilst this sort of incident can be rare, it does highlight the value of individuals checking their own credit report to ensure that all information is correct and accurately reflects their financial circumstances.’
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