A recent report by the Federal Trade Commission harshly criticizes the nation’s credit bureaus for promoting identity theft prevention services when victims call looking for help.
Bob Sullivan writing for the Red Tape Chronicles tells us the report reveals that consumers can not get past the voice mail systems that often make it hard to reach a live operator. They are confused about their rights and face unnecessary time-consuming hassles fixing credit report errors caused by identity thieves or former landlords. It also mentions the possibility that the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau could initiate enforcement actions against the bureaus : Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will function as an ombudsman for irate consumers who are essentially being forced by Experian to purchase fraud alert packages. Moreover, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will do more than field complaints from folks who are pissed off that Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion are ruining their lives. They will also have authority and oversight over the credit bureaus which will include imposing fines and reversing erroneous entries on an individual’s credit history!
It took me forever to thaw or unfreeze my credit history at Experian. They charged me for service they never rendered. I had to contest multiple Experian charges on my American Express Card. American Express immediately removed all erroneous Experian charges on my statement and the agent indicated there had been a ton of people calling in with similar Experian complaints. Many have considered filing a class action lawsuit against Experian, and you should read the excellent article by Tom Quinn on the class action lawsuit that was filed against Experian. Tom Quinn’s wisdom on credit, debt, and personal finance has helped and saved many from financial ruin. I believe Quinn worked for FICO( Fair Isaac) and knows a lot about how your credit score is calculated.
I know that it is not fair that my credit score is effectively Experian’s property and they profit from that ownership. Also, if you call Experian trying to fix a mistake in your credit history or to get a free credit report, they will do their best to sell you some sort of credit protection product. Also, you can not get a “free credit report” WITHOUT first giving them credit card information!
We did file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau and the Chamber of Commerce in Allen, Texas which is where Experian is located. The BBB representative subtly indicated that she had received countless complaints by many very angry, upset, and pissed off people.
Also a word on what is meant by a credit freeze. One can freeze their credit histories with all three credit bureaus at a cost of 10 dollars per bureau. You will be issued 3 PINS which you can use to thaw or unfreeze your credit when you decide to buy a house, a car, etc.
I think that freezing your credit is a good idea but it really does not offer absolute assurance that your good credit will not be compromised. Jeremy Vohwinkle states that when a credit report freeze is in place, no one can open a credit card account or take out a loan or mortgage in the account holder’s name, not even the account holder.
Mr. Vohwinkle is close to the truth in his claim, BUT all a credit freeze does is prevent Experian, Equifax , or TransUnion from releasing your credit records to potential creditors. A creditor willing to take a chance could still issue credit in your name to an identity thief!
In closing, one could NOT be given better advice than “Watch the Clark Howard Financial Counseling Program”. Clark Howard became very wealthy at an extremely young age and exudes common sense with respect to sound financial advice. Listen to him carefully and he will help to prevent you from getting ripped off.