Identity Theft Concern
I am a member of Credit Expert, Experian’s Credit Manager service that normally provides me instant online access to my credit report. I pay $90 annually for this membership, and have been a loyal customer for over twenty-five years. Until today. During a periodic checkup to insure against identity theft, I was unable to get to my data. That was July 12, four weeks ago.
After 14 e-mails, all of which resulted in no resolution from a staff so inadequate it is incomprehensible they hold their jobs, I finally received a telephone number to call. Apparently, I had gone through this boiler room full of dummies—God only knows where they were—and at least one had the inclination to hand me off to someone else. That was last Friday, July 28.
After another complete explanation to someone equally as inept by the name of Bemi, I was put on hold several times for durations up to three minutes. I’m guessing that wasn’t enough since he finally got back to me with the answer that my problem had been “escalated” to the proper party, and I would hear from them within 48 hours.
The “problem” is that I cannot check my credit report to make sure there is nothing going on that is fraudulent. It involves logging on to Credit Expert, then proceeding to look at “inquiries;” anyone that has accessed my credit report. At the same time you can scan all your credit history, and confirm that the data is correct. That is, if you can get to it. I couldn’t.
248 Names, Personal Data Breaches Since 2005
Since ChoicePoint started the parade in February of 2005, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse reports almost 250 breaches of sensitive data in everything from Social Security numbers to medical records. Just fewer than 90 million records of your private information was on the open market, at least temporarily, even if it was eventually recovered. And for what hasn’t been recovered, don’t feel any comfort in the fact that you, personally, haven’t experienced fraud. The new identity criminal is smart, and willing to wait until the heat is off to tear into your credit.
I didn’t see Experian on the list of breaches—TransUnion, another credit bureau, was—but if the frontal guard I dealt with is any indication of the rest of the company’s proficiency, they are due any day. I worked with this organization—as well as Equifax and TransUnion—during my 35 years selling names and personal data in the junk mail industry. It is this experience, among others, that led me into privacy activism, and the launch of this blog.
Nowhere to Turn for Credit Dispute
Returning to the Experian episode, there was no call or e-mail in over 72 hours, so another contact was made. This time, I started with a quick explanation of the situation, with a demand to speak to a supervisor. Anthony sounded somewhat competent, but with absolutely no authority to help me in any way; it took over an hour to learn this. He could only listen and “escalate” the problem elsewhere.
Anthony gave me a telephone number to request an immediate credit report, and file a dispute over my credit report that was inaccessible. Result, it was “automated response” only, and I must purchase a credit report for $10 before I can file the dispute, with no human being within miles. Upon recalling Anthony, he confirmed all this, at which time I almost went postal.
The outcome was that he was again “escalating” my problem to the right people, and he would have them call me within two hours. They didn’t, but I did hear from someone at Credit Expert later in the day. He was late responding because Anthony hadn’t given him proper contact information.
But, you’d never guess who called. The Escalation Manager. More on this later.