Customers received this alarming message.
A credit reporting glitch has temporarily torpedoed an undisclosed number of consumers' credit scores, msnbc.com has learned. The error came to light after many consumers who pay for credit monitoring services received alerts about the drop.
Credit bureau Experian erroneously reported HSBC credit card customers as having balances exceeding their credit limits, causing scores to plummet. One consumer said his score dropped 60 points.
Several consumers claim the glitch dropped the last two digits of the HSBC cardholders' credit limits. For example, a consumer with a $1,500 credit limit suddenly was reported as having a $15 limit -- which in turn caused the consumer to have a balance far larger than the limit. That in turn spiked the consumer's so-called credit utilization, which has a big impact on scores.
"My CL (credit limit) is $1350 and my latest report shows the CL as $13," wrote one consumer on MyFico.com "My utilization is very low but it still caused my score to drop 60+points because according to the report my utilization is now well over 100 percent."
Other consumers reported that HSBC had told them it was working on the problem and their credit scores should return to normal soon.
HSBC referred questions about the incident to the Experian credit bureau. In a statement, Experian told msnbc.com that the error had already been fixed.
"On April 1, 2011, Experian loaded data from a single data furnisher and made an isolated administrative error in coding this data," it said. "This error was detected on Monday, April 4, which Experian quickly corrected and the data was immediately suppressed. Since that point, the information has now been reloaded accurately and the file reflects the most updated information provided by the lender.
"It is possible that consumers who are members of a credit monitoring service received an alert that their account was over the credit limit. At this time, we are not aware of any consumers who were negatively affected by the temporary change in their information. "
The scale of the problem was unclear, but one HSBC customer told msnbc.com that he was told by the bank that it impacted "thousands" of consumers.
Experian said consumers' credit scores were back to normal, but David Schott, an HSBC customer, said his credit monitoring service still indicates that his account is over the limit.