What Kind of Data is Floating Around….?

Somebody just emailed me and ask what information companies like Choicepoint, Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion actually have on people. The email included the comment “Well I have never been contacted by ChoicePoint, or any other of these bureaus.”

Well, no kidding. And if you contact them, they charge you an arm and a leg for any reports, if they offer them at all. Most of those reports WILL contain erroneous information that they won’t change for you (at least without making you jump through three rings of fire, swim the Straits of Magellan, and climb Mt. Everest without oxygen).

Back to topic – what do they have…

Here is a list (not all inclusive, of course):

1) Your social security number, birth date, birth place, and the same information for your spouse, children and Aunt Margaret;

2) Every address you have lived at since you popped up on “the grid” (which means, the day the doctor cut the umbilical cord);

3) Your credit card and bank account vendors, and all associated account numbers, plus all the ones you closed ten years ago;

4) Your driving records, including present and past licensure and associated license numbers and addresses, and all of the related infractions, even if adjudicated…

I stand corrected – CNN is right – everyone should be scared.

By the way, if the above list causes worry, don’t fret. There is an $8 per hour customer service rep sitting in a call center with access to all of this information, on a monochrome screen of course. They aren’t very nice, but that isn’t their fault. The companies make it nearly impossible to get a human in the first place, so by the time you reach one, you have forgotten how to be nice yourself.

So they have all this data on you, that you didn’t give to them, or authorize them to have. They will tell you it is safe and secure, and likely claim that all of their employees are bonded.

Tell that to 145,000 unhappy pseudo-clients of Choicepoint.

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