You might expect your credit report to contain old credit accounts, maybe even the credit card you had back in college or the loan you paid off a few years ago. However, you might be surprised to find old addresses on your credit report, especially an address where you barely remember living. How do credit bureaus get these old addresses?
What Information Shows on Your Credit Report?
Your credit report contains more than just credit and loan information. It also includes personal information that's used to verify your identity. This personal information includes your name, birthday, current and previous employers, and current and previous addresses.
Why an Old Address Could Show Up on Your Credit Report
Your credit report typically includes any address where you've ever received a bill, especially credit card and loan statements. When your creditors update your information with the credit bureaus, they also update your address information. For example, if you change your mailing address with your credit card issuer, who then reports it to the credit bureaus, the new address will then appear on your credit report.
The credit bureaus keep track of your current and your previous addresses, so even when you relocate, the old addresses don't go away. Your credit report is simply updated to show which address they believe is your current residence, based on what your creditors are reporting. Luckily, your address isn't a factor in your credit score and isn't a factor in whether your applications are approved. Old addresses won't hurt your credit score.
Unlike other types of outdated information, addresses don't fall off your credit report after a certain amount of time. So it's possible for every address where you've ever lived, or at least where you've paid bills, to show up on your credit report.
When the Wrong Address Shows Up
If an address where you never lived appears on your credit report or if your credit report shows that you resided at an address longer than you actually did, it could be a sign of credit card fraud or identity theft. Review the rest of your credit report thoroughly for accounts that aren't yours. As an extra precaution, check your credit statements for unauthorized charges and verify your billing address is correct.
Report cases of identity theft to your creditors and the credit bureaus immediately to clear up fraudulent accounts. Consider adding a fraud alert to prevent future fraud or identity theft. The fraud alert lets potential creditors know to take additional steps to confirm your identity before approving credit applications. You can also place a security freeze—which is now free in the United States—on your credit report to lock your credit report to new credit inquiries.
If your credit report contains inaccurate addresses, you can use a credit report dispute to remove them.
You don't have to remove old addresses simply because you no longer live there. Some credit cards, loans, and employment applications ask for your addresses for the previous two to three years to verify your identity. It could raise a red flag if you report living at addresses that don't show on your credit report.
Should You Update the Credit Bureau With Your New Address?
You don't have to worry about giving the credit bureaus your current address. As long as your creditors and lenders have your correct billing address—and they should, so that you can receive your billing statements—the credit bureau will eventually update your credit report to show your most recent address.