A recent analysis by the General Accounting Ofﬁce (GAO) cites information drawn from the relatively few studies that have attempted to address data accu racy and importance.13 Speciﬁcally, the GAO cites a 2002 joint study by the Consumer Federation of America and the National Credit Reporting Associa tion that found evidence that the information included in the credit reports of any given individual can differ widely across agencies.14 This study also found that credit history scores based on data from the agencies can vary substantially regardless of whether the indi vidual has a generally good or a generally bad credit 13.. For example, one investigation by a consumer organization estimated that up to 79 percent of credit reports may contain some type of error and that about 25 percent of all consumer credit reports may contain errors that can result in the denial of access to credit.16 A study by Arthur Andersen and Company reviewing the outcomes for individuals who were denied credit and then disputed information in their credit reports con cluded, however, that only a small proportion of the individuals were denied credit because of inaccurate information in their credit reports.17 THE FEDERAL RESERVE SAMPLE OF CREDIT RECORDS The Federal Reserve Board obtained from one of the three national credit-reporting agencies the credit records (excluding any identifying personal or credi tor information) of a nationally representative ran dom sample of 301,000 individuals as of June 30, 2003.18 The sample data omitted home addresses but 15.. Four general types of credit-related information appear in credit records, including those in the Fed eral Reserve sample: (1) detailed information from creditors (and some other entities such as utility companies) on credit accounts—that is, current and past loans, leases, and non-credit-related bills (2) information reported by collection agencies on actions associated with credit accounts and noncredit-related bills, such
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