I searched the forum and found some similar stories, but not quite, so I thought I'd post and see if I could get some advice on what to do next.
I have an extremely common (maiden) name. So common that I couldn't ever google myself without specifics because there's millions of results and even then, there's people with the same name as me where I live (and attending the same university I did). I've had other people's personal records mistaken for mine for a very long time.
In high school, my transcript included exam scores from another student (poor scores compared to mine to boot!), which wasn't discovered until I had it sent off for college applications. In college, my credit report listed a gas station credit card that was opened when I was 12 and currently there's a student loan from the university here opened in 1993, when I didn't even go to that university until 2001 (plus, I was 14 in 1993).
On top of that, the person I thought was my best friend stole my identity and opened a bunch of credit card accounts, racked up bills, then ditched the cards for new ones. Thousands of dollars in debts not mine, some of which I've been forced to pay, despite action on my part. She even intercepted the bills, letters from collectors, and a summons for one particular debt. I was unaware of what was going on until the sheriff showed up to take my possessions. I wound up borrowing money from my mother to pay that debt because I had no other choice at the time.
So it wasn't much of a surprise when a $6000 account for American Express, opened in 7/1997 showed up on my account. When the account was opened, I had just graduated high school and was unemployed, living with my parents until college started. I didn't actually get a credit card until December of 1997, after I had gone to college. That was a Discover card, followed by an American Express card.
This AmEx account is completely different from the one I actually had. The one I had was only a $1,000 limit and I paid it off in 2001 (I have proof of this). The account numbers are different and I have never once received any sort of notice or bill from them. This only popped up on my credit report this year, though in 2005, they called the mother of a friend of mine, said they were trying to collect a debt, and said what the amount was, which I'm pretty sure is illegal to do so. I don't know how they got her number. The only time I had listed my friend on anything was on one job application the year before, and I listed his local number, not his mom's number (which I didn't even know).
Plus, why would they allow an unemployed teenager have a $6000 card and then a $1000 card five months later?
I disputed the account a few months ago and of course, it was verified because the CRA's don't tell you up front that disputing an erroneous account won't do much good. I was eventually told to send a letter to AmEx about it, but I didn't get a chance to. Probably a bit of laziness on my part, but work and the rest of life got in the way (plus I'm still dealing with a bunch of other fraudulent accounts).
I didn't think anything of it until this past Monday, when Equifax sent me a notice saying American Express of Fort Lauderdale had filed a "suit or judgement" against me for $6,014. No case number or any other information besides that. It's not on my report yet, just an alert, and I don't even have a case number or where the case is located.
So now I'm stumped as what to do next. I have contact information and thanks to a credit report, have the account number of this wrong account. I also found that (on my credit reports), they're showing an actual address I had. However, the address identification # is the same as the one showing on my old AmEx account (which also shows on my report as paid in full in 2001). Those two AmEx accounts are the only accounts with that address identification number.
So I don't even have an erroneous billing address to track with it and of course my name won't do me any good. Bad enough there's a couple dozen misspelled (and sometimes downright wrong) names on my account.
This account was opened long before I knew this (former) best friend, so it can't be her. I never received ANY bill from them. All I know about it is what's on my credit report and that only appeared recently.
What should I do? Should I contact them first to dispute it? Should I wait until they contact me? Considering they've had 11 years to contact me and failed to do so, I'm not sure waiting is the best idea. I don't want the sheriff to show up on my doorstep again. $1500 was bad enough to have to pay, but $6000 is more than I could ever do. I have enough real bills to worry about!
ETA: I should also mention my credit history has SSN's and birthdates that aren't mine. Some aren't even close!