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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

FTC Drops the Ball...Again

Can’t Reach a Human? You’re Not Alone

I can deal with talking to an automated telephone system when it comes to getting my latest bank balance, or calling the airlines for flight arrivals. I cannot tolerate this electronic technology when a series of button commands could not possibly answer my question. That was the case in my recent Experian incident, and many of your comments indicated you have had the same problem. The credit reporting company even denied my right to dispute at one point.

Shouldn’t Credit Reporting Agencies Be Required to Talk to Us?

When someone is handling information as delicate as your credit history, and you are in a critical situation requiring immediate attention, contact with a competent human being should be a given. It isn’t at Experian. It took me 14 e-mails to pry a telephone number out of the most incompetent crew of customer service representatives I have ever experienced. And then, when at the top of the pecking order, with my dilemma still unsolved, the guy left me stranded, telling me there was no more he could do for me.

Who You Know Still Works Best

It was only after asking a privacy colleague for help that I got the telephone number that did the job. Bingo. Problem solved in a couple of days, and after two follow-up calls—these people never return the first call—a credit was issued for the two months I was not able to access my credit report from Credit Manager.

Apparently, the fact that thousands of consumers cannot reach a human being at the big three credit reporting agencies, isn’t a priority for the FTC. Not satisfied yet, I am researching the Federal Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), and Gramm-Leach-Bliley to determine if there is any stipulation in either of the bills to cover this issue. More on this later.

FTC’s Strike Number Two

Eight months after the Federal Trade Commission’s settlement with ChoicePoint—the gang that started the tide of data breaches in 2005—a $5 million fund for the 800 victims hasn’t paid out a penny. The FTC shouted success and waved flags exclaiming “look what we did,” but failed to plan just how to do it. Sounds like the other gang that thought they could coast after the Iraq war.

It is all very discouraging, because it shows a bureaucratic unwillingness to do something about the identity crisis from the Bush administration, to Congress, right on down to the government agencies that are supposed to regulate this issue. More fodder for my concept that consumers should control their names and personal data, and be paid any time they are used.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I came across a page of Consumer Credit Laws that is long, but helpful in understanding where we stand legally. Maybe it could come in handy for others.