The Fed says one in five consumer have an error on their credit report. Five percent had an error serious enough to lead them to pay more to borrow to finance a house or a car.

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The study looked at reports for 1,001 consumers issued by the three major agencies -- Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. The FTC hired researchers to help consumers identify potential errors.

The FTC says the findings underline the importance of consumers checking their credit reports.

Bruce McClary, of Clearpoint Credit Counseling Solutions, says errors can occur from a myriad of causes, such as a number or even just a decimal point getting misplaced. Consumers are entitled to a free copy of their credit report annually from each of the three reporting agencies. McClary says consumers should check the reports each year and keep an accurate record of all of their financial transactions.

"Because when it comes time to jump in and dispute things, it helps, the more information that you have, the more documentation you have, to back that up."

Last September, the Federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau gained the authority to write and enforce rules for the credit reporting industry and to monitor compliance.