False information spread by Time Warner/CNN

Jeff Bewkes, Time Warner

This is a civics lesson directed squarely at you. If a shadow audience reads it, that’s gravy.

See “Labor Day, 2013 – CNN and the myth about employers and credit scores.” In it, I make the point that your reports of American history and credit scores are factually incorrect. Your websites state that Mitch McConnell is the majority leader of the U.S. Senate. That is not true, and further, it has never been true. While a fine man, Senator McConnell (R-Ky.) is Minority Leader. You can see that plain fact on the Senate’s official history page, “Majority and Minority Leaders and Party Whips.”

You also state that employers use credit scores, and that is not true, either. That fact was a lot harder to prove (and took 5 years; proving that something is not is a lot harder than proving that something is) than the fact of the senator’s position, but there isn’t much debate about it now. If there is debate, your side loses. Hell, you even seem to argue with yourself, publishing, in 2011, “It’s important to note that employers can’t actually see your three-digit credit score,” and then, in 2013, “Insurance companies, landlords, and employers are increasingly checking credit  scores, too.”

Blame VantageScore if you want (actually, that would be a good thing–the more, the merrier), but the CEO of that relatively new gambit of the consumer reporting agencies doesn’t have his act together, either. You are birds of a feather: Too quick on the Publish button, and oblivious.

Despite the proof above (and your having been informed), your pages still make false claims. In addition to those listed on the Labor Day page, here are more examples of you stating Senator McConnell’s title inaccurately. Please, for the sake of the United States of America, stop it today. If you do nothing, this merciless berating will continue.

  1. DNC ad aims at ‘plotting’ by McConnell
  2. CNN’s GUT CHECK for March 14, 2013
  3. Repeal health care law? Forget about it
  4. SOTU Crib Sheet 3/3
  5. Reid Yanks Senate Contingency Plan as House Takes Lead in Debt Talks

And, on the following pages, you published the statement that employers use credit scores. Employers do not use credit scores. I looked into it. The first three stories are dated after April 24, 2008, the date that–within days of the other two–the third of the three main national consumer reporting agencies stated that they do not provide credit scores for employment purposes. The second three are dated prior to 2008. If, by some great miracle (or act of journalism), you come up with evidence or sources, please provide them today. Had you done so in the first place, we would not be here, now.

  1. MYB: Your credit score could prevent you from getting a job – Christine Romans explains” (2013)
  2. Employers are looking at candidates credit scores. Be wary.” (2010)
  3. Settling the credit score” (2008)
  4. How to ace your credit score” (2007)
  5. 8 credit score myths” (2005)
  6. Credit score myths” (2004)

There are other myths that need attention, but if this does not compel you to make corrections, there is a much bigger predicament. Not only is what you are doing wrong in terms of accuracy, it is wrong, ethically. Because of this fundamental problem, we don’t have a well-informed electorate (let-alone a well-informed legislature). Truth is in the balance.

Despite your mass-media megalomania and prolific uploading, there is still hope. But, your action in this moment will stand as a fact of history. Don’t let it slip away.

The propagation of this myth has serious consequences. Today, before you publish another word, make it stop.

No interviews.

Greg Fisher
The Credit Scoring Site (creditscoring.com) – A bleak account
Page A2 (pagea2.com) – Media accuracy, errors and corrections

cc: Jeff Zucker, CNN
cc: Joseph A. Ripp, Time

Newspaper monetization

From: Greg Fisher [mailto:greg@creditscoring.com]
Sent: Friday, April 19, 2013 11:39 AM
To: Strange Logic North America
Subject: Chronicle of a myth

You further a myth by writing, “To an employer, a bad credit score may be seen as a lack of responsibility or poor decision making skills and cause them to put up a stop sign for hiring.”

Meanwhile, the San Francisco Chronicle runs advertisements on that page containing that falsehood.

Name one employer who has ever used a credit score.  If you cannot, tell me what you are going to do to counteract the myth that you perpetuated.

What is your name?

Greg Fisher
The Credit Scoring Site
PO Box 342
Dayton, Ohio  45409-0342

PS. Extra points for promptness.  Act now.


FICO score Credit utilization, Wall Street Journal, 2012-12-01

From: Greg Fisher [mailto:greg@creditscoring.com]
Sent: Sunday, December 02, 2012 11:29 AM
To: Rupert Murdoch, chairman and CEO, News Corporation (via Julie Henderson)
Cc: Karen Blumenthal, columnist, Getting Going, Wall Street Journal, News Corporation; Karen Blumenthal (2)
Subject: credit score, Credit utilization, Wall Street Journal, 2012-12-01

You published:

Apart from what you actually owe, it especially helps to have unused credit available. “Credit utilization“—how much of your credit you actually use—accounts for 30% of the credit-score calculation. While the rule of thumb is to keep your credit use to no more than a third of your available credit, FICO high achievers use, on average, a skimpy 7% of the credit available to them.

However, according to Fair Isaac, 30% is a number referring to the importance of a category in calculating a FICO score called “Amounts Owed,” not “Credit utilization.”  And, Amounts owed is driven by half a dozen factors, not just utilization.  Fair Isaac explains that one of the items in the category is, indeed, “How much of the total credit line is being used and other ‘revolving’ credit accounts,” but it is only one of 6 items in that segment, and, in fact, is listed fifth.

One of the other items (one that you failed to mention) is “The amount owed on different types of accounts.”  That introduces the idea of scoring based on specific types of loans—credit cards and installment accounts, for example.  Another is, merely, “How many accounts have balances,” which has nothing to do with how much credit is actually used.

In 2009, a Fair Isaac spokesman told me: “When my company explains FICO scoring to a general audience, we apply general weights to major data categories such as, ‘Amounts Owed is 30 percent of a typical consumer’s score.’ We don’t break that weighting into finer parts for individual factors, both to avoid unintentionally misleading the public and to protect the model’s proprietary information. “

But if all of that is not overt enough for you, try this.  Using the same words (apparently finally giving in, using the same, popular, over-simplifying street term) you use, Fair Isaac mentions this about the 30% category:  “Credit utilization, one of the factors evaluated in this category, considers the amount you owe compared to how much credit you have available.”

So, now we finally know—in words straight from the horse’s mouth—that “Credit utilization” (despite wacky Wikipedia‘s inaccurate information) does not account for 30 percent of the score calculation; it is only one of the factors in the 30% category (and we have only a vague idea of its weight).  What is not clear about that?  You used quotation marks around the term credit utilization.  Who are you quoting?

And, whose rule of thumb is it to use no more than a third of available credit?  Is there some plateau at 33 percent?  Are there only diminishing returns below that?

The state of the fourth estate is pathetic, so I created a website to deal with your industry’s poor attitude regarding accuracy.  Corrections are published on Page A2.

Finally, what are you doing about my comments that you removed?

Greg Fisher
The Credit Scoring Site
Page A2
PO Box 342
Dayton, Ohio  45409-0342

[UPDATE, 2012-12-03 5:30 PM EST: Continued on Page A2]

QuinStreet and facts regarding credit scores

From: Greg Fisher
Sent: Friday, September 28, 2012 2:27 PM
To: Barbara Marquand, staff writer, QuinStreet
Cc: Doug Valenti, chairman, QuinStreet
Subject: Experian, Fox Business, Quinstreet, VantageScore; employers

Experian linked to an article on the Fox Business website in which you wrote, “VantageScores range from 501 to 990, and the breakdown of excellent to bad credit is similar to the scale used to calculate grades in school — 900 to 990 is excellent; 800 to 899 is good; 700 to 799 is fair; 600 to 699 is poor; and under 600 is failing.”

Who designated that tier as failing?  And, at what are those in that tier failing?

Also, you wrote, “Even employers sometimes check credit scores to gauge applicants’ sense of personal responsibility.”

What indicates that employers use credit scores?

Greg Fisher
The Credit Scoring Site
PO Box 342
Dayton, Ohio  45409-0342

Jean Chatzky’s dilemma

Employers do not use credit scores.  Can’t even get ’em.

The second tab after “Home/Blog” on JeanChatzy.com is “Score Builder.”  The landing page says, “Better credit in 120 days, powered by Smart Credit.”

On Oprah.com as she explained the number that she thinks “is widely considered to be a measure of how responsble a human being you are,” Jean Chatzky said, “You may even have an easier time getting a job as many employers these days are checking out credit scores because they want to hire responsible employees.”

Then she plugs Credit.com and CreditKarma.

[Wonks: She also gives the score scale as 350-850, but let’s not quibble over that– boring.]

Meanwhile, over at NBC, (where it counts, apparently), Chatzky finally comes to terms with her misinformation.  In a segment for NBC’s Today, she said (finally):

It’s a really good question, and we did get a lot of response to that thought that employers are checking credit histories.  About 16% of them actually are.  What they’re not seeing is your credit score.  They’re seeing your credit report.


Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


Inexplicably, however, her blog post (“Posted by Jean”) about that appearance states, “On Today’s Money 911 we talked about what employers that check credit scores are looking for and gave tips for finding a job over 60.”

Previously, as Matt Lauer did the deed (as many do in their introductions to the topic) Chatzky remained silent. (2:09)

Poor Oprah (dot com).

Oprah was unavailable (but the train station never looked better).

So, what happens, now?

New Young Broadcasting errors and corrections

From: Greg Fisher [mailto:greg@creditscoring.com]
Sent: Monday, April 16, 2012 11:12 AM
To: Deborah A. McDermott, president, New Young Broadcasting Holding Co., Inc. (via Nashville Bank and Trust); Deborah A. McDermott, president, New Young Broadcasting Holding Co., Inc. (via Leadership Nashville Foundation)
Cc: Angela Kennecke, news anchor, KELOLAND Television, New Young Broadcasting; Press office, U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; Corrections, KELOLAND News, KELO-TV, New Young Broadcasting
Subject: RE: The News at Ten and its corrections, .tv II

Please reply.

Greg Fisher
The Credit Scoring Site
PO Box 342
Dayton, Ohio  45409-0342

[previous message]

The News at Ten and its corrections

From: Greg Fisher [mailto:greg@creditscoring.com]
Sent: Friday, April 13, 2012 10:37 AM
To: Deborah A. McDermott, president, New Young Broadcasting Holding Co., Inc. (via Nashville Bank and Trust)
Cc: Angela Kennecke, news anchor, KELOLAND Television, New Young Broadcasting; Press office, U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
Subject: The News at Ten and its corrections, .tv

See this message and your response at http://blog.creditscoring.com/?p=3843.

You broadcast, “Whether you’re applying for a mortgage or a job, your credit score determines how easy it will be for you to get it” and “You could even be turned down for a job if your credit score isn’t high because you may look irresponsible to a prospective employer.”

Employers do not use credit scoresPay no attention to that attorney general behind the website.

Did your interviewer ask the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau director about employers allegedly using credit scores?

It’s complicated.

When do you air corrections?

Have you been to Tuvalu?

Greg Fisher
The Credit Scoring Site
PO Box 342
Dayton, Ohio  45409-0342

[next message]

Contacting Oprah Winfrey, personal finance

The questions are all the same. Answers vary.

From: Greg Fisher [mailto:greg@creditscoring.com]
Sent: Tuesday, March 27, 2012 10:11 AM
To: Oprah Winfrey, Harpo Productions (via Bernard Gugar)
Subject: credit score, employers, Oprah Winfrey

See this message and your reply at http://blog.creditscoring.com/?cat=293 and http://blog.creditscoring.com/?tag=oprah-winfrey.

Your website states:

Last year, 25 billion credit decisions were made based on FICO scores alone. These weren’t just decisions about whether you’d be approved for a new credit card but… Whether an employer will hire you… In other words, your score is a really powerful piece of information.

I visited your office earlier this month, but was unable to see anyone about that statement.

Despite unfortunate conflicting information, employers do not use credit scores.

What indicates that employers base hiring decisions on credit scores?

Greg Fisher
The Credit Scoring Site
PO Box 342
Dayton, Ohio  45409-0342


Who told you that?

From: Greg Fisher [mailto:greg@creditscoring.com]
Sent: Friday, March 23, 2012 2:34 PM
To: K. James Yager, CEO, director, Barrington Broadcasting Group, LLC
Cc: Walter D. Bristol, chairman, Consumer Reports, Consumers Union; Amanda Walker, Consumer Reports senior project editor, Consumers Union; Communications, Consumers Union; James A. Guest, president, CEO, consumer Reports, Consumers Union
Subject: Whistle-Stop, Consumers Union, Barrington Broadcasting, Who told you that?

With incredulity, you published: “Your credit score is obviously important if you’re borrowing money. But many employers also look at scores when hiring.”

At the bottom of that story is a link to the “Consumers Union website,” however, the Consumers Union page at the link address does not support your statement; it does not mention employers.

New Yorker Hotel

On a whistle-stop tour this month, I visited Consumer Reports.  The person with that organization I spoke to there wrote:

Sent: Thursday, March 08, 2012 1:34 PM
To: greg@creditscoring.com
Subject: Follow up to your visit earlier today

Hello Greg,

After your visit, I conferred with Mandy Walker and our experts over at Consumers Union (the advocacy arm of Consumer Reports), and we’ve since updated Mandy’s quote in my blog to more accurately reflect the updated language now found at the website cited.

I just wanted to thank you for bringing this to my attention, and apologize for the communication disconnect that occurred on this end between Consumers Union and Consumer Reports, which meant the update was not made to the blog post sooner.

Again, thanks for your sharp eye and follow through,

(Despite that, still, another Consumers Union document states, inaccurately, “Without a Disaster Information Shield, FICO scoring models could pose an affirmative barrier to the efforts of disaster victims to regain, and maintain, financial stability, access reasonably priced credit, and even regain employment.”)

Your page even contains advertisements while misinforming readers by saying that employers use credit scores.

Who told you that?

Greg Fisher
The Credit Scoring Site
PO Box 342
Dayton, Ohio  45409-0342


reply, Hearst, media accuracy, erroneous reporting

From: Greg Fisher [mailto:greg@creditscoring.com]
Sent: Thursday, March 22, 2012 10:26 AM
To: J.T. O’Donnell, columnist, J.T. & Dale Talk Jobs; J. T. O’Donnell, founder & president, CAREEREALISM
Cc: George R. Hearst, Jr., chairman, Hearst Corporation (via Lisa Bagley); William Dean Singleton, chairman, MediaNews Group, Inc.; Dale Dauten, columnist, J.T. & Dale Talk Jobs; Mary E. Junck, chairman, president and CEO; chairman, Executive Committee, Lee Enterprises; Mary Junck, Associated Press; Dale Quinn, reporter, Arizona Daily Star, Lee Enterprises
Subject: Re: media accuracy, errors and corrections, Lee Enterprises, Hearst, AP, a real joke

You must be joking about Lee Enterprises.

Experian states: “Experian’s Employment Insight report includes similar information about loans and credit cards that is listed in the credit report. It does not include year of birth, spouse reference, account number or credit score, which are irrelevant to hiring decisions”

I hope that’s official enough for you.  Actually, a guy gave a testimony.  He swore it, under oath even!

Finally, there is no longer anything on Equifax’s website about employers using credit scores.

So, that begs the question: Who is your source?  And, if nobody said it in the first place, then what are you “validate/research” -ing?

On the other hand, Experian says, “Creditors, landlords, and even some employers consider a person’s credit score before deciding whether they will approve a loan, lease an apartment, or hire an applicant.”

Why don’t you tell that story?

Greg Fisher
The Credit Scoring Site
PO Box 342
Dayton, Ohio  45409-0342


From: [email address] On Behalf Of J.T. O’Donnell
Sent: Wednesday, March 21, 2012 6:00 PM
To: greg@creditscoring.com
Subject: Re: media accuracy, errors and corrections, Lee Enterprises, Hearst, AP


Just sent you a tweet but figured I’d email you too.

I hope you can understand that because you are the one emailing, we need to validate/research what you are saying.

I’ll circle back with you when I learn more.

Thanks for your patience,


[previous email]