The Three Major Credit Bureaus

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According to Steve Kroft, an American journalist and weekly correspondent for the television news program 60 Minutes, the three major credit bureaus are not the safety net most Americans believe.  Mr. Kroft, a much awarded reporter, tried on camera to question an error on his credit report, to no avail.  What prompted Mr. Kroft was a single mother’s effort to rid her credit report of false information.

The woman, Judy Thomas, spent a tremendous amount of time and effort trying, unsuccessfully, to remove false and untrue reports to the three major credit reporting bureaus.  Apparently, Ms. Thomas had the knowledge and resources to sue the agencies in federal court, successfully, after many years of frustration, trying to comply with the bureau’s requests and/or demands.  Another woman, with a different name, from a state Ms. Thomas had never visited, was listed with derogatory reports of being late in payments, being sent to collections, being a credit risk, thus nullifying Ms. Thomas’ ability to refinance her home, at historically low interest rates, helping her children go to college, or buy a vehicle.

An independent, eight year study found the three major credit reporting bureaus, Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax falsely reported that 1 in 5 people had false information on their credit report, and more shockingly, 1 in 10 had untrue information that lowered their credit score.  All in all, 60 Minutes claimed over 40 million Americans, mostly unaware Americans, have a similar errors on their credit reports.  As bad as this is, rectifying the credit mess, gets even more cluttered with bureaucracy.

Following Ms. Thomas’ lead, Mr. Kroft telephone the 800 number of one of the credit bureaus.  Through my limited involvement, when you contact one of the major credit reporting bureaus they are required, by law, to notify the other two major reporting agencies, regardless of the inquiry.  Mr. Kroft was referred the agency’s website numerous times during his conversation with a “Real” person after suffering through a barrage of recorded prompting, button pushing, and asinine requests from automated questions designed to handle your problem(s).

Although irritating, I somehow have gotten use to this format, mainly because I have no other option. I would equate the use of recorded solicitations to be equal to having my prostrate gland examined by an ice cold robotic digit.  The thought of having of having my identity compromised is equally, or perhaps, more chilling.

Through Mr. Kroft’s investigation, it was revealed inquiries concerning mistakes found by consumers, are out-sourced.  I was always under the impression our most treasured documents, our credit reports, were kept solely in the United States.  Reason being, we have laws that protect American’s right in the U.S. that foreign countries do not.

Countries such as India, South America, and the Phillippines were mentioned as recipients of our disputes.  When questioned, foreign works confessed that piles of requested documentation, were reduced to one or two sentences, then forwarded back to the parent company in the United States.  Once back home, nothing was done to help the affected consumer(s).

As I said earlier, Ms. Thomas had the knowledge and resources to hire an attorney to sue the three major credit bureaus in federal court.  Although no exact monetary figure was mentioned.  Ms. Thomas stated “The credit bureaus would rather pay $1,000,000.00, than fix the problem.

The federal court’s verdict, favoring the plaintiff, did not erase Ms. Thomas’ years of frustration, nor ease her time involved corresponding with the credit bureaus.  She, like the majority of people, had no idea she was dealing with foreigners overseeing her dilemma.  Attorneys, State Attorney Generals, televison reports and their researchers, and American citizens will attest to the frustration, closely skirting criminal activities, to be totally trampling the Fair Credit Act.

Mr. Kroft tried to contact the credit bureaus spokespersons in an effort for their “Side of the story,” with negative results.  He was referred to an individual who stated “95% of the public view the credit bureaus with a favorable reviews.”  Realistically, if you find an error(s) on your credit report, you own it.

*           This story closely follows the 60 Minutes report, first aired February 11, 2013.  For the complete story please visit Steve Kroft’s website, scroll down to you find the title – 40 Million Mistakes: Is Your Credit Report Accurate?

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