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“A newspaper would never merely publish data, because someone told them something, they would verify it,” Mr. Edelman said. “Why don’t the credit reporting agencies have the same approach?”

Mr. Edelman would like to see the FTC step in with penalties for inaccurate credit reporting.

“The time has come for the government to impose greater standards and penalties for organizations that are careless with the information they post to credit reports,” he said. “The creditors who report to the agencies are at fault, because they upload erroneous, outdated information, but the agencies should take a few steps to verify what is obviously inaccurate information.”

The study, which was commissioned by Congress, found that 1 in 5 consumers had to dispute their credit score to get an error corrected. One in 20 consumers saw their credit scores change by more than 25 points after the error was corrected.

The FTC recommended that consumers use to check their scores for free.

“Your credit report has information about your finances and your bill-paying history, so it’s important to make sure it’s accurate,” Charles Harwood, acting director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement.

Unfortunately, people often neglect their credit reports.

“This doesn’t surprise me at all,” Mr. McBride said. “People don’t utilize the opportunity to get free copies of their credit report and get those inaccurate items corrected.”