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Friday, January 16, 2009


THE TIME HAS COME TO HOLD EXPERIAN ACCOUNTABLE


Most posts in The Dunning Letter result from bringing you current events, with some analysis on how they relate to your privacy. On other occasions, such as today, there is a necessity involved that dictates speaking out. The opportunity that presents itself is one of far-reaching concern over the credit bureau Experian, and its level—or lack of—customer service.

On August 18, 2006, I did a post, “Experian Denies My Right to Dispute Credit Report Problem,” after which I have received a parade of comments (28 to date on just this post), e-mails, and visits to this blog with searches titled “Experian dispute.” Earlier in August of 2006, I had done another post, “Level of Competence at Experian Credit Bureau Found to Be Low,” that documented my personal experience of having my credit report go temporarily missing from the paid service I used, Credit Manager, which normally provided 24/7 access online.

In other words, I had uncovered a rash of complaints against Experian, that did not appear to be anywhere near as prevalent with the other two credit bureaus, Equifax and TransUnion.

Speaking of TransUnion, they had their bout with the government and lost, all the way to the Supreme Court. Back in 1992, the Federal Trade Commission filed suit against TransUnion for selling information that was taken from their consumer credit database. The country’s highest court agreed with the FTC, and the practice was stopped.

But in the last couple of weeks I have received at least five comments, some desperate, accompanied with numerous e-mails, from exasperated victims of Experian’s abominable customer service. I can’t imagine what is taking the FTC so long to take action against this credit bureau; The Dunning Letter, alone, has recommended on numerous occasions that Experian casualties file complaints with the FTC.

I even posed this question with a top privacy advocate who also has no idea how long it will take the agency to wake up. This source does emphasize: always file a complaint because eventually the number will be too large to ignore.

This all brings me to an article I read recently in a junk mail industry publication headlined: “Experian Lays Off 130.” Agreed, this was not the company’s credit bureau operation, but rather the marketing arm for selling their database with well over 200 million consumer names and private information. Things like age, income, whether you drink or gamble, what your ailments are and the medications you take for them. The list goes on numbering hundreds of personal things this company knows about you and sells on a daily basis.

The irony of this is, why couldn’t Experian retrain these people and use them in the credit bureau’s “customer service” department, instead of putting them out of work? Anything would be better than the attention the public is getting now.

Experian’s last reported six month period revenues in 2008 generated $1.04 billion in revenue and $251 million is profit. Total company employees number 15,500, less 130. You’d think out of 15,370 people Experian could find someone to handle you complaint.

Maybe it’s time this action made its way to the Supreme Court.

1 comment:

Mark said...

Experian had incorrectly reported a false date for a lost credit card. The card was lost in December of 2001 and they reported it as of March 2009. All attempts to get past their automated phone system were futile. I did however find another number which got me to a representative who was actually very helpful. The phone number to call is (800) 493-1058.