PART TWO
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Dirty data


Credit Reports

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Credit report news

12/13/10

12/4/10

2007
6/21 - Congressional hearing press reports
6/20 - Congressional hearing

10/18/05
  • "Nationwide Credit Reporting Companies Encourage Victims of Katrina and Rita to Review Free Reports" - "Victims should consider adding a "hurricane victim" statement to their credit file."
  • New bankruptcy law, and how credit counseling affects credit score: See The Credit Scoring Site
10/11/05
  • "Consumer organizations," 10/6/05: "Credit Reporting Agencies Reject an Important Step to Help Hurricane Survivors: Many Katrina Victims Will Face Additional Economic Difficulties as Credit Scores Drop Due to Disaster"
  • Equifax, 10/10/05: "Equifax Offers Individuals Impacted by Hurricanes Access to Their Credit Files at No Charge - Equifax also offers tips on how consumers should take proactive steps to protect their credit while they rebuild their lives"
5/15/05 3/14/05
  • FACTA amendment to the FCRA (enacted Thursday, December 4, 2003)
    • "ESTABLISHMENT OF FINANCIAL LITERACY AND EDUCATION COMMISSION."
      • "SEC. 514. DUTIES OF THE COMMISSION."
        • "... increase awareness of the availability and significance of credit reports and credit scores in obtaining credit, the importance of their accuracy (and how to correct inaccuracies), their effect on credit terms, and the effect common financial decisions may have on credit scores... "
        • "The Commission shall establish and maintain a website, such as the domain name `FinancialLiteracy.gov', or a similar domain name." - mymoney.gov - "The website established under paragraph (1) shall... offer such other information as the Commission finds appropriate to share with the public in the fulfillment of its purpose."
          • mymoney.gov contains no link to "The FTC's web site on Credit" (also called "the FTC's Website on Credit")(the FTC is on the commission and is the credit reporting agencies' regulator)(if you find a link, please write)
          • mymoney.gov contains no link to www.annualcreditreport.com (free credit report "centralized source")
        • Due June 4, 2005: "The Commission shall... not later than 18 months after the date of enactment of this Act, develop a national strategy to promote basic financial literacy and education among all American consumers... The Commission shall, not less than annually, review the national strategy developed under this subsection and make such changes and recommendations as it deems necessary."
          • August 25, 2004 - "Treasury Seeks Public Input in Development of National Strategy for Financial Education"
          • October 1, 2004: "Treasury Welcomes Public Comment on Development of National Strategy for Financial Education" - "The request for comment was filed at the Federal Register and was published on August 26, 2004... The comment period runs through the end of October of 2004."
      • Financial Literacy and Education Commission - "The Financial Literacy and Education Commission (the Commission) was established under Title V, the Financial Literacy and Education Improvement Act, which was part of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003, to improve financial literacy and education of persons in the United States."
      • U.S. Department of the Treasury, Office of Domestic Finance, Office of Financial Education: "The Office also coordinates the efforts of the Financial Literacy and Education Commission... "
    • "SEC. 518. THE NATIONAL PUBLIC SERVICE MULTIMEDIA CAMPAIGN TO ENHANCE THE STATE OF FINANCIAL LITERACY."
      • "DEVELOPMENT OF MULTIMEDIA CAMPAIGN- The Secretary [of the Treasury], after review of the recommendations of the Commission, shall develop, in consultation with nonprofit, public, or private organizations, especially those that are well qualified by virtue of their experience in the field of financial literacy and education, to develop the financial literacy national public service multimedia campaign."
      • "AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS- There are authorized to be appropriated to the Secretary, not to exceed $3,000,000 for fiscal years 2004, 2005, and 2006, for the development, production, and distribution of a pilot national public service multimedia campaign under this section."
      • "REPORT- For each fiscal year for which there are appropriations pursuant to the authorization in subsection (e), the Secretary shall submit a report to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs and the Committee on Appropriations of the Senate and the Committee on Financial Services and the Committee on Appropriations of the House of Representatives, describing the status and implementation of the provisions of this section and the state of financial literacy and education in the United States."
  • Financial and Economic Literacy Caucus
    • Congresswoman Judy Biggert: "BIGGERT AND HINOJOSA ANNOUNCE FINANCIAL AND ECONOMIC LITERACY CAUCUS"
    • "Additional members who have joined the Caucus are Reps. Paul Kanjorski, D-Pa., Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Al Greeen, D-Tex., Barbara Lee, D-Ca., Harold Ford, D-Tenn., Dennis Moore, D-Kan., Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., and Donald Payne, D-NJ."
  • Flint Journal
3/12/05 3/8/05
  • ChoicePoint debacle
  • The Boston Globe: "However, nobody has a good handle on either the compliance issue or how many job applicants are rejected because of their credit reports, according to Belair."
  • Free annual credit report
    • Stephanie Zimmermann, Chicago Sun-Times: "Free credit reports can be a hassle to acquire" - "Equifax spokesman David Rubinger said "technical difficulties" interfered with links from consumer groups and news organizations to the official site, and he added that the problem since has been corrected."
    • Susan Tompor, Detroit Free Press: "Using phone may be best call to get free credit report" - "Kellie Cosgrove Riley, an attorney for the FTC, said that the agency has heard similar complaints about linking issues and is concerned."
    • (see screenshots of annualcreditreport.com) World Privacy Forum: "Confirmed as of March 4, 2005, TransUnion changed its preselection policy described in this report and no longer automatically opts consumers in to receive marketing offers through a checkbox at the bottom of its registration page. However, TransUnion still asks for an email address."
3/6/05
  • ChoicePoint debacle
    • Harry R. Weber, AP: "Company CEO Derek Smith and President Douglas Curling earned $16.6 million from ChoicePoint stock sales after the company learned of a major security breach and before the news was made public."
    • Robert O'Harrow, The Washington Post: "The officer assigned to the case, a sheriff's detective named Duane Decker, asked the company whether it could lure the man posing as Garrett back to the copy store as part of a modest sting operation."
  • equifaxclass2005@aol.com
    • Flint Journal: "More than 7,000 complaints have been filed with the FTC against Equifax over the past two years, Washington said."
    • Her attorneys say thousands of others have had problems with Equifax and that's why the lawsuit has been given class action status."
  • Fun with the new free annual credit report law
    • Springfield, MO News-Leader: "Pick the wrong Web site or type in a number wrong or click the wrong button and you could end up paying a fee or locking yourself out."
    • Channel 4, Washington: "But do you know you're also entitled to free access to other personal records that companies keep on you?"
3/4/05
  • Bank of America debacle
  • Michigan
    • Attorney General: "Free Annual Credit Reports-What Consumers Should Know" (includes (to their chagrin) "YOUR RIGHT TO FREE ANNUAL CREDIT REPORTS FROM OTHER, 'SPECIALTY' CRAs")
    • The Flint Journal: "The Flint Journal is writing an article about what area residents discovered when they checked their credit reports."
2/24/05
  • ChoicePoint debacle
    • Bob Sullivan, MSNBC: "ChoicePoint theft prompts Senate investigation" - "The measure proposed by Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., would extend the provisions of the Fair Credit Reporting Act and its recent update to govern commercial data brokers, according to Nelson aide Dan McGloughlin."
    • Wired News: "Goldberg, who is being represented by her son's law firm, Glancy, Binkow and Goldberg, is seeking class-action status for her suit to cover the thousands of other victims of ChoicePoint's data breach."
    • ChoicePoint's comment:
      • 2/23: "Response to Customer Fraud Litigation" - "Like most U.S. businesses, we respond to the specifics of litigation in court proceedings, not the media."
      • 2/16: Joseph Menn, LA Times: "ChoicePoint refused to detail the infiltration, which was detected in October. A ChoicePoint employee noticed a suspicious application to open a customer account, which enables users to search for background information about people and to request credit reports from one of the three major credit bureaus."
    • What is ChoicePoint?
      • Harry P. Weber, AP business writer: "The 19 billion public records in its database at its suburban Atlanta headquarters include everything from motor vehicle registrations, license and deed transfers, military records, names, addresses and Social Security numbers."
      • Wikipedia
      • EPIC
  • FTC: "Consumers in the Midwestern states — Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin — can order their free reports beginning March 1, 2005."
2/21/05
  • ChoicePoint debacle (News Releases)
    • Bob Sullivan, MSNBC: "The incident involves a wide swath of consumer data, including names, addresses, Social Security numbers, credit reports and other information."
    • San Francisco Chronicle: "ChoicePoint was informed of the intrusion by law enforcement in October."
    • Reuters:
      • "In several recent filings with the Federal Trade Commission, Hoofnagle [EPIC] has argued ChoicePoint should be subject to a law that allows consumers to view their credit reports and see who else is accessing them."
      • "Still, a 2004 FBI cyber-crime survey found that only 20 percent of companies report computer intrusions to the police, and half don't report them to anybody."
    • AP:
      • "The task force leader, sheriff's Lt. Robert Costa, said the number of people vulnerable to identity theft in the case could reach 500,000."
      • "Attorneys general in 38 states have joined an open letter to ChoicePoint Inc., demanding that the data-brokering company do for their states' residents what they did for Californians - inform anybody affected by the security breach that they may be vulnerable to identity theft."
  • EPIC: "The letter argues that blocking links violates federal regulations, and that, 'Whether intentional or not, every subtle and not so subtle web design tactic has been employed to make www.annualcreditreport.com difficult to find and use.'"
1/28/05
  • TransUnion: "In February 2005, TrueCredit will award anyone in America who has earned a score of 850 with $1,000... "
  • Oregon (again)
    • "A Portland man has won a 210-thousand dollar lawsuit against the credit bureau Equifax, after they failed to fix errors on his credit report."
    • AP:"During the next three years, Equifax continued to report false credit information about Kirkpatrick."
    • "During the next few months, Equifax officials first denied that they had received what he sent the company, then claimed they got it but shredded it, the memo said."
  • No Place to Hide
    • ABC News: "Read chapter one of "No Place to Hide," by Robert O'Harrow."
    • "Some of the information companies include Acxiom, one of the world's largest data marketing specialists, ChoicePoint, a background screening company that also assesses risk, LexisNexis, one of the giants and also a law enforcement and intelligence contractor. The credit bureaus are deeply important to all of the above - and to our economy."
    • "In a response, ChoicePoint said the thrust of Hoofnagle's letter was baseless. The Fair Credit Reporting Act was 'not meant to be omnibus privacy legislation,' the company's letter said."
    • As its dossier grew, so did the number of ChoicePoint's government and corporate clients, jumping from 1,000 to more than 50,000 today.
    • creditscoring.com and creditaccuracy.com author's effort to stand as a resource for journalists and legistors:

      O'Harrow said to "Google" him. Ironically, the author of the privacy book asked the author of creditaccuracy.com: "Who are you?"

      To: greg@creditaccuracy.com
      Subject: RE: credit reports
      From: "Robert E O'Harrow"

      I am.

      http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/business/specials/privacy/robertoharrow/

      Robert O'Harrow 212-XXX-XXXX

      >Would you please reply to confirm that you were the person who called last >week?

  • Al Heavens, Philadelphia Inquirer Columnist: "Many readers have complained to me that when they contact these agencies, the people who answer the telephones tend to be either clueless or professional obfuscators."
  • More on the TransUnion Pritzkers
    • Forbes: "But don't count the Pritzkers out yet. In a bizarre twist, the Pritzkers could conceivably turn a profit if the agency wins its lawsuit against Ernst & Young."
    • Forbes: "The Pritzker family could soon get tens of millions of dollars from a settlement involving the collapse of a bank it co-owned. Yes, you read that right."
    • Businessweek - Penny Pritzker resume: "Former chairman, now defunct Superior Bank"
1/20/05

TransUnion Spin-Off

There is no story about the spin-off on TransUnion's press page.

Chicago Tribune: "'And I'm sure the Pritzkers are very interested in not being transparent about things,' he said of the notoriously private family."

AP: "Pritzker Realty Group executive Penny Pritzker has been named chairman of the new company, which will be called Trans-Union Corporation."

The Marmon Group news releases page containing one release-- from 2004.

PR Newswire (source: The Marmon Group, Inc.): "TransUnion has formed a new board of directors and Penny Pritzker has been appointed chairman of the board of TransUnion Corp., the new parent company of TransUnion LLC."

"Earlier this month, 11 members of the Pritzker clan settled a lawsuit brought by two young heirs who claimed relatives looted their trust funds and unfairly cut them out of the breakup plan."


01/18/05
  • FTC: "Report to Congress Under Sections 318 and 319 of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003" - "In contrast, consumer disclosures currently mandated under the FCRA provide all information about a consumer in the CRA’s files at the time the consumer requests disclosure." (pdf - html)

    Congress, that statement made by the FTC to you is not true. See this testimony you already heard, and the evidence to the contrary at 0002.htm and http://www.federalreserve.gov/SECRS/2004/October/20041014/OP-1209/OP-1209_106_1.pdf.

    The FTC received that information long ago. See 0002FTCComplaintInputForm.htm and the story in the Hartford Courant.

    This isn't about the 2003 amendment to the FCRA. This is about the 1996 amendment (see Sec. 2408. Consumer Disclosures and footnote 11.), which the federal government has not enforced.

    "FACT Act" Actions

  • Mailbag:

    "Why is someone else allowed to have my credit records on a computer file and I cannot access them without being charged. I should be able to access just as the carlots do. Why cant I?"

    They do not get them for free, but they are usually priced less than the $9.50 you have to pay (aside from your once-per-year free report). The credit reporting agencies treat the reports like a commodity, selling them to lenders at volume prices (there's nothing unusual about that).

    Since federal law caps the price (which could be lower if the CRAs wanted it to be) to consumers, the market is not a truly supply-and-demand. But that is so that the agencies do not start charging you $1,000 to see your file.

    Still, $9.50 is a stiff price for ten sheets of paper. And, if their reports are so accurate, then they will not have to incur much more expense to provide service to the supposed few people whose reports are incorrect. In the next few years, when the price increases to the nice round number of $10, some might question the validity of that price. I surely do.

    Mr. GAMBILL(TransUnion). Well, yes, sir. Thank you. At $9, providing reports to consumer that want it is not a moneymaker. Okay? If it was, you would see us advertising it a lot more heavily than we do now. http://financialservices.house.gov/media/pdf/108-37.pdf#page=32


    Mr. GUTIERREZ. Mr. Gambill, what is the total profit of your corporation for the issuance of credit reports? That is, when private individuals ask you for a credit report, what is the extent of that? Is it 2 percent, 5 percent?

    Mr. GAMBILL. Well, we almost have no revenue from that particular source at this point, Congressman. And right now it is underwater. We were trying to build a business there. We acquired a company to help us do online disclosures in a more efficient way. But we are at below break-even at this point on the sale of reports directly to consumers. I would like to see that ultimately become something in the 15——

    Mr. GUTIERREZ. Why are you losing money on that particular part of your business?

    Mr. GAMBILL. Well, I am just trying to build my sales. I am trying to build the consumer base that uses the products and services that we have available. And we have a level of cost right now that is greater than our sales. Our sales are about $30 million in that space, and so are our costs. http://financialservices.house.gov/media/pdf/108-37.pdf#page=32

    All I can figure is this: They have a lot of file inaccuracy (which makes their cost high because they have to provide service to correct the files).

    But, they lost the argument. Free credit reports are the law.

01/02/05
  • FTC: "As detailed in the notice, which will be published shortly and is available on the FTC’s Web site, the ceiling on allowable charges for certain disclosures under the FCRA, Section 612(f)(1)(A), will increase from $9.00 to $9.50 in 2005."
  • Federal Reserve Bulletin, Summer, 2004: "Credit Report Accuracy and Access to Credit" - "The most important factors considered in credit evaluation are those that relate to an individual’s history of repaying loans and any evidence of noncredit- related collections or money-related public actions."

    In this seemingly exhaustive report, the Fed failed to point out the fundamental that consumers cannot obtain all information in their files (as mandated by the 1996 amendments to the Fair Credit Reporting Act) in order to know if their files are accurate in the first place. How can you dispute something you don't even know exists? See the proof at creditaccuracy.com/0002.htm and federalreserve.gov/SECRS/2004/October/20041014/OP-1209/OP-1209_106_1.pdf. Challenges from the credit reporting agencies and their apologists are encouraged and welcomed.

  • PBS Frontline/New York Times: "SECRET HISTORY OF THE CREDIT CARD" (video)
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creditaccuracy.com is cited by:

The Hartford Courant

Bankrate.com

Ohio Civil Rights Commission consulting economist

The Christian Science Monitor

Bankrate.com



"... a self-described 'new breed of rogue Internet journalist'... "

"... runs a one-man crusade against the credit agencies at his website, creditaccuracy.com... "

"'All' information would include all-- not just some of-- the dates."

"How did you arrive at that number?"

"For what permissible purpose and under what circumstance did you furnish Mr. Richman with my credit file?"

"However, Trans Union LLC does not store those dates, and has no opinion on the validity of the inferences drawn by the creditor."

"If your thing called "Failsafe" is a "national database of consumers with unfavorable current or past credit histories" (as stated on your web site), then you sure seem like a credit reporting agency to me."

"There is a chronicle at the second web site, creditaccuracy.com, and it promises to be much more entertaining. With Equifax not responding, we're off to a great start."

"Considering the enormous volume of credit information that is transmitted in the U.S.-- two billion pieces of information are updated in consumer credit files each month-- the industry has an extraordinary record of accuracy." Ask them what "record" they're talking about.