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Tuesday, October 27, 2020

The Credit Reporting Industry Needs a Major Overhaul

 If there was ever an industry in dire need of oversight and regulation- it has to be the credit reporting industry.

For years, these credit reporting agencies have worked in the shadows gathering information without permission. They have little or no oversight with regard to the activities they engage in. They have no regulation other than themselves. I know of exactly nobody who publicly advocates on behalf of the citizen consumers they report on. The murky workings of creditors, collection agencies, and inherent mistakes, leaks, and flaws in their work- coupled with the absolute quirky nature of how a credit reporting agency arrives at a credit "score" is a mystery of Loch Ness proportions.

My first run in with these agencies occurred in 1987. I would work up loans and run credit reports. Time and time again, I found myself trying to sort out what was accurate and what was not. If you had a common name, say Susan Smith, you might literally have all sorts of derogatory entries on behalf of all of the deadbeats named Susan Smith in the credit reporting world. Once I had run a credit check- I would sit down with the prospective borrower and go through all of the true and false entries on the report. Sometimes it became a giant pain in the ass and a deal killer. I found so many flaws and inaccurate entries back then that I was completely flabbergasted that this system even functioned. Trying to remove a bad credit entry was tantamount to scaling Mt Everest.

Heaven forbid someone stole your identity and charged up a hundred grand under your name. I can bet those people nearly lost their minds and several years trying to restore their credit.

My next run in occurred when I was billed 1060 dollars for a standard 6 panel blood test in 2009. It hit my credit report after I changed addresses. I only caught it when I was turned down for a loan a few months later.  When I called the collection agency on the report- they said I had an outstanding delinquent account. Who pays 1060 dollars for a simple blood test? The collection agency didn't care. So I contacted the hospital, informed them that I have had the same test done several times for about 75 bucks. Where in the hell did this hospital get 1060.00? I was informed that was what they charged because of their giant overhead costs. I told them I would pay 2 or 3 hundred dollars as a compromise but that I in no way, shape, or form was going to pay them a thousand dollars. They refused. They sent my case to a settlement committee which also refused to reduce the amount. Ultimately, I called the credit collection agency, begged them to take me to small claims court and let a judge decide what was fair. They refused to do that. That derogatory entry sat on my credit for 10 years. I never paid it.

I was screwed out of a few loans, lower interest loans, and charged higher interest rates. I learned to become self sufficient. I began to pay cash for everything. In fact, everything I own- I own out right.

My next run in with credit reporting agencies is when I discovered that they were handing out my information to insurance companies. I very angrily told one agency that I was not seeking credit and that they had absolutely no right to disclose my information to an insurance company. I asked them if they intended to disclose my information to everyone who I did business with. 

My point is simple. Unless I am asking for credit- then there should be no reason for ANY company to seek out my credit score. Insurance companies raise rates on people perceived as bad credit risks despite the fact they pay on time and with their own money.

Of all the things that piss me off about credit reporting agencies- this one floats to the top of my list.

There was the hack and security breach where hackers literally stole millions of folks' information from credit reporting agencies. The settlement for allowing all of this info to escape was ridiculously low. As the puny sum that was set aside for settlement purposes was quickly exhausted- stolen by lawyers and the government- everyone else received free credit reports as compensation. I requested the 75 bucks when I discovered my identity had been stolen. That was years ago. Still nothing.

Yesterday, I received a collection notice for 229.00 dollars from a collection agency on behalf of Safeco Insurance. I have never been insured by Safeco. I called the collection agency. They said it was for homeowners insurance on a house I had never purchased. The purchase and sales agreement fell through I explained and therefore, I would never have sought a binder for the house. In fact I mentioned, it would have been illegal for the owner and I to each have a separate policy on the same house prior to closing the sale. She told me that I had to provide proof that I had not bought the house. Short of calling her insane- I asked her how I was supposed to do that and (b) why was it my fucking responsibility to provide proof?? Being the thickheaded woman that she was- she got all huffy when I used the F word and ended the call. 

So I called the insurance agency in Montana. I told them the story. I also told them it was their responsibility to make this go away since they originated the problem in the first place. "No sorry, I'll look into it." Just I'll have someone call you. I am still waiting. Tomorrow I shall call the manager and chew somebody's ass.

So how does all this happen and then continue?? Apathy... people simply don't care until their time comes. In the case of credit reporting- I've found that just about everyone gets screwed over sooner or later by credit reporting agencies. In a drunken stupor, I could devise an interactive system far superior and user friendly than this God awful monstrosity. I'd turn it over to the government but then it would really get fucked up- like the Post Office and the IRS.

Ultimately it might take a class action lawsuit with damages to force an overhaul of this clearly broken system. It is long over due.