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Thu Jan 31, 2013, 08:49 AM

Equifax Sells Private Information To Debt Collectors In 'Biggest Privacy Breach In Our Time': Report

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/30/equifax-sells-private-information_n_2584518.html?utm_hp_ref=business



Equifax Sells Private Information To Debt Collectors In 'Biggest Privacy Breach In Our Time': Report (UPDATE)
The Huffington Post | By Caroline Fairchild
Posted: 01/30/2013 5:32 pm EST | Updated: 01/30/2013 7:41 pm EST

Financial information is considered by most to be very private, but that isnít stopping one credit reporting agency from sharing it without your knowledge, according to a report by NBC News.

Equifax, one of the nation's largest credit reporting agencies with one of the most expansive private databases of information, has accumulated the salary and employment records of more than one-third of U.S. adults, according to NBC. In turn, the agency has sold some of this information to debt collectors and other financial service companies. That data can make debt collectors' jobs easier by giving them access to information individuals thought only their employers knew.

"It's the biggest privacy breach in our time," Robert Mather of Pre-Employ.com, an employment background company, told NBC.

How does Equifax do it? The credit agency gets the sensitive information from U.S. businesses and feeds it into one of its subsidiaries, The Work Number. Used by lenders and employment screeners, The Work Number serves as a verification of employment and income information.


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Reply Equifax Sells Private Information To Debt Collectors In 'Biggest Privacy Breach In Our Time': Report (Original post)
unhappycamper Jan 2013 OP
JCMach1 Jan 2013 #1
tridim Jan 2013 #3
obamanut2012 Jan 2013 #2
liberalhistorian Jan 2013 #6
obamanut2012 Jan 2013 #8
liberalhistorian Jan 2013 #14
dotymed Jan 2013 #13
obamanut2012 Jan 2013 #18
nc4bo Jan 2013 #4
liberalhistorian Jan 2013 #7
liberalhistorian Jan 2013 #5
yardwork Jan 2013 #11
RiverSong Jan 2013 #12
melm00se Jan 2013 #17
Egalitarian Thug Jan 2013 #19
SoapBox Jan 2013 #9
dinger130 Jan 2013 #10
guyton Jan 2013 #15
Puzzledtraveller Jan 2013 #16
just1voice Jan 2013 #20

Response to unhappycamper (Original post)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 09:53 AM

1. Time to outlaw credit reporting agencies and force banks to do

and other lenders to do old-fashioned due-diligence.

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Response to JCMach1 (Reply #1)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 10:04 AM

3. No kidding. My credit score is hosed for at least 7 years due to another person's negligence.

Before he stole the $34,000 that he owes me (which caused me to lose my house), my credit score was nearly perfect.

Credit scores need to be reset/adjusted on a case-by-case basis, but that'll never happen without legislation. Not holding my breath.

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Response to unhappycamper (Original post)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 09:56 AM

2. Credit checks should only be used for loans

Not car insurance, rental leases, etc.

And, if they have to have credit agencies, should be wholly separate agencies, and should be allowed to be sued for errors they refuse to remove.

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Response to obamanut2012 (Reply #2)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 10:14 AM

6. They ARE separate agencies and they are EACH

private companies, they have nothing to do with the government. The government regulates them and tries to reign them in, and, thanks to that government under the FTC we ARE permitted to sue them for mistakes and errors that they refuse to correct. The problem is, they consider judgments paid under lawsuits to simply be the cost of business and they don't really care how our lives are affected by them.

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Response to liberalhistorian (Reply #6)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 10:33 AM

8. They aren't separate -- they are credit agaencies and debt agencies

Who work with private companies. They shouldn't be allowed to do that. They should be more like the GAO or something.

We can't sue them -- nothing happens. My cousin had his SSN number stolen, and after three years of the credit agencies ignoring him, he was able to get his Senator to help and he was able to get a new SSN and new identity, basically.

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Response to obamanut2012 (Reply #8)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 11:09 AM

14. I'm not clear on what you mean.

The three major credit reporting agencies, Transunion, Equifax and Experian, are PRIVATE businesses. Completely private, they have NOTHING to do with the government. The Federal Trade Commission is the government agency that is charged with regulating them and enforcing the Fair Credit Reporting Act and the Fair Debt Collection Act.

And yes, they CAN be and often are sued. I used to work for attorneys and we dealt with that all the time. It doesn't mean you'll be able to get them to correct their errors without government intervention, but they CAN legally be sued. Many times the FTC will sue them on your behalf but, being a federal agency under the clutches of a hostile Congress, it is perpetually understaffed and underfunded.

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Response to obamanut2012 (Reply #2)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 11:08 AM

13. Don't forget "pre-employment screenings" eom

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Response to dotymed (Reply #13)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 01:12 PM

18. You are 100% right

Unless someone is an accountant, or in the CIA or something.

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Response to unhappycamper (Original post)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 10:11 AM

4. We are the cash cows........

Wouldn't it be grand if someone actually protected us?

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Response to nc4bo (Reply #4)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 10:30 AM

7. The FTC (Federal Trade Commission)

does try to do a decent job with the funding and staff that they have and they do try their best to enforce the Fair Debt Collection Act and the Fair Credit Reporting Act. It's just that there are so many violations by the three private agencies and they consider fines and court judgments to be a cost of business that they're willing to eat, that the FTC has trouble keeping up. The FTC doesn't have the deep pockets that the private credit industry has.

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Response to unhappycamper (Original post)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 10:11 AM

5. This does not surprise me in the least; in fact,

I'd be very surprised if the other two major bureaus aren't doing it also. I used to work for TransUnion a hundred years ago and "privacy" to them was a curse word, they chafed under all of the federal rules under FDCA and FCRA, as well as state laws. ALL the credit bureaus care about is money and how to use their information to make more of it. Period.

There was a time when people were told and assured repeatedly that credit reports and scores would never be used for anything other than lending purposes and that only lenders and landlords would be able to have access to them. But the agencies realized what a limitless cash cow they had in all of their information and began to devise ways to use it to make more and more money. They began to propogandize the bullshit that credit reports/scores were important for insurance and employment purposes and began to lobby to change the laws to permit such access.

So we get the bullshit from insurance companies, now standard, that they base part of their premium decisions on credit information, more than one third of employers now routinely check credit reports and make hiring decisions based on them, and the list goes on and on. Never mind that there is NO EVIDENCE that shows a correlation between not-so-great credit and job performance/insurance claims and never mind that there's no context for bad information on reports (prolonged job loss, illness and medical bills, etc., etc.). The credit agencies have really screwed Americans over in pursuit of the almighty buck and we're basically stuck with it, because their propaganda is now so entrenched in both the culture and business world.

And I have to laugh at those who are so afraid of government and so enamored of private businesses. I've even met plenty of people who think that the credit agencies are government agencies run by the feds, which is absolute, complete bullshit. They are all completely private. If it weren't for that awful government that regulates them, or attempts to, and if it weren't for federal laws such as the Fair Credit Reporting Act and the Fair Debt Collection Act, and the FTC's fairly strict monitoring of them, they would be ten times worse than they are. We used to have to pay to get our own credit information from them; the FTC finally got the law enacted that we are permitted one free report each year from each of the agencies and also that if we were denied credit, employment, insurance, etc., based on information from an agency's report, we were permitted a free copy of that report.

In fact, there was a time when we were not even permitted access to our reports, the FTC had to step in on that a few decades ago, also. There was also a time when the agencies routinely ignored incorrect or fraudulent information on the reports and ignored attempts to correct them. Now, thanks to the evil gubmint, they must respond to attempts to correct false information and must correct that if it is false. All three agencies have faced multi-million-dollar judgments for not doing so, which has tempered them somewhat.

Credit reports and scores should never be used for anything other than lending purposes. PERIOD. That was their original intention. Our information is none of an employer's or insurer's business, period.

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Response to liberalhistorian (Reply #5)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 11:01 AM

11. Thank you for this excellent post.

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Response to liberalhistorian (Reply #5)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 11:02 AM

12. "In fact, there was a time when we were not even permitted access to our reports" ...

and we still have no FREE access to our own score (that I know of).

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Response to RiverSong (Reply #12)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 12:08 PM

17. http://www.creditkarma.com/ NT

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Response to liberalhistorian (Reply #5)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 01:42 PM

19. Thank you and excellent. We could fix this by simply making them liable for their actions.

 

Like so many of the bad faith players screwing up our world, these parasites only exist because they have purchased special exemption from the rules we are all supposed to play by.

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Response to unhappycamper (Original post)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 10:46 AM

9. ...it's criminal.

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Response to unhappycamper (Original post)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 10:48 AM

10. We, as a nation

need to stop bowing to the credit scoring gods. I worked in this industry at one time. I know it's hard to do, but work with your cash only. They have the ability to follow everything you do if you rely on credit cards. Kick the habit! And for those who have been financial devastated during this recession and have moved, don't let your credit be pulled. That will let the collection companies lead you to your new home. So many people have had their interest rates increased dramatically for no reason at all and can no longer afford the payments. These were the same big banks that were bailed out while we the people were stuck in this mess.

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Response to unhappycamper (Original post)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 12:02 PM

15. Freeze your credit reports!

Identity theft issues have caused almost all states to give the consumer a lot of power in controlling your credit history, but judging by the number of ads to protect your credit, it's an almost completely unknown right.

Laws vary by state, but here is an excellent "starting point" to figure out how you can control your credit report depending on where you live.

http://www.consumersunion.org/campaigns/learn_more/003484indiv.html

It'll take a few minutes to figure out what your rights are (and the benefits/tradeoffs of the couple of different options), but it's well worth the investment in time to protect your identity/credit.

Note if you're frequently applying for new lines of credit, freezing is probably the wrong option for you as there's often a charge for temporarily unfreezing or for allowing restricted access to open a new account.

Also this doesn't prevent debt collectors from grabbing your information in order to resolve a debt.

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Response to unhappycamper (Original post)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 12:05 PM

16. I just got an email alert from equifax

I am a caseworker and we have an account with The Work Number a wage reporting service used by social services as a tool in determining benefits. The email just indicated that The Work Number has essentially been bought out by Equifax and even went so far as to say all nomenclature and logos will have Equifax and not The Work Number. So there you have it.

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Response to unhappycamper (Original post)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 11:48 PM

20. If a few Bush-era war criminals were tried for their crimes, maybe just maybe

 

there'd be some hope for the lawlessness to stop, but until then we can all forget about "law" applying to anyone in the 1%.

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