Experts say it happens way more often than we think. Insurance providers buy data from third parties to help determine scores for clients. One Milwaukee man's premium skyrocketed, and that's when he found out his report was loaded with errors.
Back in April Frank Lubinski got a summary of his insurance policy. "I saw that it was an increase," he told us. His premium went up $262 a year for auto, home and his umbrella policy. But at first no one could tell him why.
"That's the reason we found this out because we kept digging," Lubinski explained.
His insurance bases its pricing decisions, in part, on information it gets from a third party. "LexisNexis Risk Solutions" pulled Lubinski's credit history from the three national reporting agencies. That included a judgment against him for $2224.00. "It was against Frances II, and it should not have even appeared on my report," Lubinski said. Frances II is Lubinski's son.
He contested the judgment with LexisNexis. It was removed and Lubinski says his insurance score improved, but there were still issues. "We got the final report from them after they took that judgment off and that had even more mistakes in it."
Lubinski showed us pages of what he calls errors on the new report. "Francis II, my son, with my social security number on it. This one too, this one too."
Marquette Assistant Professor, Shion Guha pointed out, "this is a problem that's plagued computer science from the very beginning." Guha is a Computational Social Scientist. He points out raw data can't provide context.
"If you've got two people with the same names how do you differentiate? The best we've been able to do is provide additional data and context to make sure we know those relationships."
But Guha says that's just one step. Companies often don't have people on staff trained to analyze all the data they're buying from third party info brokers. "They may not know the sophisticated methods that computer scientists developed to kind of mitigate some of these issues."
So far Lubinski has paid 7 months at the higher premium, "it'll be $190.64," he told us. Right now he says he's waiting for the errors on his LexisNexis report to be fixed and hopes that will bring down his premium.
A spokesperson for "LexisNexis Risk Solutions" called this an extremely rare case and said the company matches and manages information for more than 276 million consumer identities.
Advice from experts for consumers: pay close attention to any increase in rates and find out why something went up. LexisNexis will give people a free copy of their credit file if their insurance coverage has been denied, canceled, limited or if the premium increased.
Also, follow the usual advice to monitor your credit report. You are also entitled to a free copy once a year from all three major credit reporting agencies.