Duke tells students to revise history

[previous message]

From: Greg Fisher (greg@creditscoring.com)
Sent: Wednesday, October 02, 2013 11:39 AM
To: Richard H. Brodhead, president, Duke University
Subject: RE: credit score, employers, myth, falsity, truth, efficacy of a social media message, ivory tower II, falsity

I do not see a reply to my email from you, and I am troubled that I have not noticed any that you might have made. But, the change that you made to your previously false document (if that is your response (and if it is not, then it is the greatest coincidence in history)) gives me, at least, a glimmer of hope for the future of the planet.

However, something else—something fundamental—troubles me even more. You state: “You can always ask a credit card company or other creditor to have negative information removed from your account.  They want to keep their customers happy, so they will commonly oblige your request if you have regularly made your payments on time and just made a few errors.”

That is in your document—available worldwide—titled, “How can I improve my credit score?” and is the biggest crock of nonsense that I have ever heard. But I have heard it before and did what I could to stop it. After publicly following consumer reporting for 15 years, I have heard it all.

The law, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, states

The banking system is dependent upon fair and accurate credit reporting. Inaccurate credit reports directly impair the efficiency of the banking system, and unfair credit reporting methods undermine the public confidence which is essential to the continued functioning of the banking system.

It is no wonder the students and young alumni of Duke have an advantage: They have the power to change history.

I used the microcosm of the myth that employers use credit scores to determine the integrity of mainstream media. In that exercise of herding cats, I found that, largely, media organizations are passive-aggressive: They ignore their problem with accuracy, errors and corrections, and me. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution lives. The New York Times (the metaphor as well as the actual organization) needs no formal license to exist, publishes falsity (even about American history) and answers to no one. Now that that exhaustive (and exhausting) 5-year study of mine is over, as I crawl out of that rabbit hole of ridiculousness and into the light on the surface, I find ridiculousness ten-fold and growing.

But institutions of higher learning are not cats. They are (to use a fourth metaphor) a different animal, and, in some cases—as with public institutions, for instance—do, indeed, answer to higher authority. Although that appears not to be the case with you, your affiliation with a religious organization indicates a relationship to a higher moral authority, at least.

To whom Experian and its leaders ultimately answer in regard to misinformation, today, is confusing to me: Is it the Federal Trade Commission or Elizabeth Warren’s notion, the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (who likes to call itself the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau).

And so, since I have not seen a reply from you, I will now berate you with a prediction: You will change your website regarding that bunk about begging a creditor to create a history that never was, and, indeed, sir, suggesting that banks commonly lie to credit bureaus. It is heresy. Your outrageous suggestion impairs the efficiency of the banking system and undermines public confidence.

Have some dignity.

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

Slapdash research

From: Greg Fisher [mailto:greg@creditscoring.com]
Sent: Wednesday, September 25, 2013 1:18 PM
To: Tim Grant, reporter, personal finance, housing and banking, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Block Communications)
Subject: RE: credit score, employers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, anonymity II

See this message and your response at http://blog.creditscoring.com/?p=5404.

You still have not answered the questions.  I will reiterate.

You wrote

With the possible exception of your Social Security number, your credit score might be the most important number in your life.

It affects every area of personal finances as far as the interest rates paid on loans, premiums for insurance and in some cases whether or not someone qualifies to work in certain career fields.

I asked for your source regarding credit score use by employers. You replied: “Sorry for the very delayed response, but I’m been swamped with urgent assignments and projects. From what I understand based on the research I’ve done, a bankruptcy or a very low credit score can impact a person’s security clearance for certain government jobs.”

Then, I asked if you intended to use anonymous sources. I have not received your reply, and there is no correction at the bottom of the article. It is intact, and anybody reading it will be misinformed.

Now you write: “The importance of credit reports and credit scores has gone way beyond the original purpose of gauging the likelihood of someone repaying a loan. Insurance companies use them to determine who is a safe driver and employers use them to evaluate potential employees.”

Who are your sources?

What is unclear about my question from January of 2011?

The newspaper you write for, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, has not responded to a message I sent 24 hours ago. And, lest you or the people running your organization think that you operate in a vacuum, see your false words copied and republished elsewhere by Technology Marketing Corporation.

I am not putting up with it. Employers do not use credit scores. I looked into it. Tell your publisher, and reply today.

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

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

AOL’s false information under a new name

As the chairman and CEO of AOL, Tim Armstrong (who, actually, thinks he is Donald Trump) is in charge of a lot of stuff.

Sometime between June, 2011 and today, he rejiggered it, and created a dead link in the process.

How does he expect anybody to keep track of his errors?

Here are some more.

He published, “Additionally, employers must notify the job seeker if their credit score was the reason they were not hired” (as if that is possible in the known universe–employers do not use credit scores).

Elsewhere in in his realm (of non-reality): “Ninety percent of banks use credit scores when they determine finance charges such as interest rates on mortgages and other loans. But it doesn’t stop there — potential employers, insurance companies, landlords, and a host of others use these scores as well.”

Here’s another doozy in the Huffington Post. Obliviously, Armstrong let some guy write, “Last fall, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker Boehner described changes like the chained CPI and more means-testing of premiums for affluent Medicare beneficiaries as (in McConnell’s words) “the kinds of things that would get Republicans interested in new revenue.”

Senator McConnell–while a fine man–is not in the majority party.

But, this is the best: “House Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has an ingenious plan to save us: Repeal Obamacare!”

Wrong party, wrong body.

Mr. Armstrong, meet Mr. Case.

LA Times’ uncorrected errors and bad reporting

Here is a trail of woe; a massive mess of misidentification and misinformation by mainstream media muckety-mucks.

Following a complaint about several errors to the managing editor of the Deseret News, the newspaper with the second-highest gain in audience in the country, made one correction.

But the other four errors remain.  One, a syndicated error by the New York Times, appears in another Times story, as well.

Another of the Deseret News errors originated with the Los Angeles Times.  The false American history is even uncorrected on the LA newspaper’s website.  Some guy at da Times named McManus writes, “Who’s the hero? Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), for opposing a proposed constitutional amendment to allow limits on campaign spending — and potentially put the American Future Fund out of business.”

The Republican party is not the majority party, so Senator McConnell is not Majority Leader.  In fact, he has never been the majority leader.

Linking (unbelieveably) to Wikipedia, Johanna Neuman writes, “’Tackling fraud and abuse is one of the issues that can and should form the basis of a bipartisan, step-by-step approach to healthcare reform,’ Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on the Senate floor Wednesday, ‘not as a hook to drag this monstrous bill over the finish line.'”

Seriously: Wiki. Flipping. Pedia.

Another doozy, by ace scribe and Letters to the Editor editor Paul Thornton:  “They have vilified the president ever since Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell promised to make Barack Obama a one-termer.”

As if the senator has the power to set the agenda.

Rookie Kim Geiger writes, “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) excused himself early, and Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) waved the issue away after reporters trailed him in pursuit of a response.”

In April, LA Times’ keyboard finger-flapper Robin Abcarian led with, “What is wrong with the New York Post?”

Abcarian has a problem with attribution.  The LA Times and the New York Times have a problem with the Associated Press (and math).

What is “wrong” with the Los Angeles Times?

David Brooks’ political fantasy spreads to Utah


From: Greg Fisher [mailto:greg@pagea2.com]
Sent: Monday, November 05, 2012 9:47 PM
To: Thomas S. Monson, president, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (via L. Kirkland); Henry B. Eyring, first counselor, First Presidency, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor, First Presidency, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; Christopher M. Lee, EVP and publisher, DeseretNews.com, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; Chris Higbee, general manager, DeseretNews.com, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ; Rick Hall, managing editor, Deseret News, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; Lois M. Collins, reporter and columnist, Deseret News, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; Clark Gilbert, president and CEO, Deseret News Publishing Company and Deseret Digital Media, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; Mary McConnell, member, Editorial Advisory Board, Deseret News, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Cc: Blaze Bullock, business reporter, Deseret News, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; Sharon S. Cook, senior VP, Marketing & Public Relations, Mountain America Credit Union
Subject: RE: credit score, employers, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints III

Dated today, another item on one of your websites states, “Your score can also be reviewed by insurance companies, landlords, and even employers.”

What is your correction policy?

Greg Fisher
Page A2
PO Box 342
Dayton, Ohio  45409-0342


From: Greg Fisher [mailto:greg@creditscoring.com]
Sent: Wednesday, July 10, 2013 4:13 PM
To: Rick Hall, managing editor, Deseret News, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Subject: RE: credit score, employers, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints IV

Please take this as seriously as its grave implication.

You are out of control, but no more than your industry in general (not that that should console you or make you feel that you can remain complacent).  On 4 separate dates, you published items that called Mitch McConnell the majority leader of the U.S. Senate.  He is not, and has never been.  Correct those preposterous errors today.

On July 15, 2012, you published: “Who’s the hero? Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., for opposing a proposed constitutional amendment to allow limits on campaign spending — and potentially put the American Future Fund out of business.”

On July 1, 2012, you published, “’We’ve got one last chance here to beat Obamacare, and we can do that in the November election,’ said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, calling the law the ‘single worst piece of legislation’ passed in modern times.”

On January 24, 2011, you reported

Late last week the Tampa Tribune laid out how Rubio is being courted by two different GOP groups within the U.S. Senate: the Tea Party and a more moderate faction led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ken.

(Rubio) was one of four freshman senators chosen by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to go on a trip last week to Afghanistan and Pakistan, a coveted travel slot that helps boost the profile of a new senator.

And, on October 5, 2011, you republished, “If Romney were to be elected, he would probably share power with the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, and the House speaker, John Boehner.”

That item—one that you mindlessly regurgitated—was written by an employee of the New York Times, an organization with the same problems with the truth.

Lest we all think that you are stupid as well as incompetent, correct your revisionist American history today.

And, if you’re going to write about credit scores again, read Credit score tips, information and guidelines for journalists/reporters.  Had you done so, you might have avoided this message and its permanency.  I conceived creditscoring.com, the Credit Scoring Site, 15 years ago to inform journalists and legislators, but that was, apparently, for naught.  Today, you report, “The secret numbers are the credit scores used by banks, landlords and employers to determine how much they can trust you to pay back home and car loans, pay rent on time and how responsible you are.”

I had to start another project, Page A2 – Media accuracy, errors and corrections, because your industry cannot get its act together.  Journalism is so out-to-lunch and conniving about its biggest problem, I had no competition when registering that domain.

Who is your source regarding credit scores and/or credit reports and employers?  Or, did you just make it up?

Previously, you stated: “A person’s FICO credit score (the name derives from the software that calculates it, produced by Fair Isaac Company) impacts the cost of financial services, interest rates, auto insurance and more. Prospective employers may look at it.”  Then, after I alerted you to that screw-up a year ago, you changed your story, pretending that your error never existed.  Why didn’t you put the correction on the original page where it might, actually, do some good—and to stand as an example, a caution to your cub reporters to get the story straight?

Although cowardly done, at least you changed it.  But, what you will do for a story whose entire premise is false (indeed, including the headline) will be amusing.  You duped at least one reader, who said: “Excellent article! And I agree with the hot sauce analogy–right on!”

What is your correction policy?  Reply directly to this message with the answer to that question today.

I get the whole first-rough-draft-of-history excuse for sloppy journalism, but your credit score feature story of yesterday is not news.  If you’re going to engage in that kind of writing, then change the name of your publication; perhaps the news search engines won’t give it so much prominence in misinforming the electorate.  This goofy myth of yours has serious consequences.

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

The McConnell Bind

From: Greg Fisher [mailto:greg@creditscoring.com]
Sent: Thursday, June 27, 2013 2:38 PM
To: Greg Brock, senior editor, Standards, New York Times
Subject: Error: American history, credit scores

Thank you for replying.  See today’s message and your response at http://blog.creditscoring.com/?p=5142 (“The McConnell Bind”).

Recently, I have been looking into media accuracy, errors and corrections and their consequences.  Here are two more errors that exist on your website.

In “Obama Presses Israel to Make ‘Hard Choices,’” dated May 23, 2011, you published, “’The U.S. ought not to be trying to push Israel into a deal that’s not good for Israel,’ the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, said on ‘Fox News Sunday.’”

And, in “Framing the Debate” (February 25, 2010), you state, “Republicans, including the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, and the House leader, Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, have called on Mr. Obama to discard the plan unveiled on Monday, as well as the bills adopted by the House and Senate late last year, and to start over.”

Of course, Mitch McConnell is not (and has never been) Senate Majority Leader.  Will you make a correction today?

Having received no response about an issue I raised—after your publisher’s office acknowledged my message over two months ago—I am binding your American history errors to those about employers and credit scores and credit score statistical distribution.

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

The Guardian accuracy, standards, errors, corrections and clarifications

From: Greg Fisher [mailto:greg@creditscoring.com]
Sent: Friday, June 21, 2013 2:49 PM
To: Liz Forgan, Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire, and chairwoman, Scott Trust [Guardian]; Corrections, The Guardian; Paul Mason, economics editor, Newsnight, BBC; Paul Mason, economics editor, Newsnight, BBC (address 2); Alan Rusbridger, editor, Guardian (media@guardian.co.uk)
Cc: Stephen Herzenberg, executive director, Keystone Research Center; Mark Price, labor economist, Keystone Research Center; Christopher Lilienthal, communications director, Keystone Research Center and Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center; Robin Greene, chair and president, Keystone Research Center (via C. Lilienthal); Associated Press (info@ap.org); Eileen AJ Connelly, Associated Press; Gary Pruitt, president & CEO, Associated Press (via P. Colford); Mary Junck, Davenport, Iowa, chairman, Associated Press; Kathleen Carroll, senior vice president – executive editor, Associated Press; Kathleen Carroll, senior vice president – executive editor, Associated Press (2); Kathleen Carroll, senior vice president – executive editor, Associated Press (3); Laurie Kellman, reporter, Associated Press
Subject: RE: credit score, employers, Guardian, conflation II

Carelessly and irresponsibly, you published a story indicating that U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is the majority leader of his legislative body, but you are mistaken.  Since his party is not the majority (and was not in 2012, the date of the story), it is impossible for him to be Majority Leader.  In fact, Senator McConnell has never been the majority leader.  The majority leader is (and was, in 2012) Senator Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

So, apparently, you do not know what you are doing (but I do not expect that from a Briton’s vantage point).  The inaccurate article states, “’The combination of these two proposals will provide sufficient resources to fund both, Reid said in his letter to House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.”

That is idiotic:  If what you maintain were true, it would mean that Senator Reid misattributed his own title—indeed, to his counterpart in the opposition party.  Correct that false report today, or produce the letter to which you refer.

The errant piece is titled, “Reid offers new plan on student loan deadlock,” is dated  June 7, 2012, and was written by Laurie Kellman.  The dateline is “Associated Press= WASHINGTON (AP)“ and the address is http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/feedarticle/10278519.

Also, with equal wanton disregard for the truth, you published inaccurate information about credit scores.  Employers do not use them.  I looked into it.  If you know of a case in which the Keystone Cracker Corporation queried the credit companies to cull job applicants with credit scores under 600, then let me know; you have failed to name even one company engaged in the practice you claim.

I don’t care if the uninformed columnist is an economist (or a pessimist, optimist, botanist, cyclist, meteorologist or a cellist)—he does not know what he is talking about and is flat-out wrong.  It told you about this 3 months ago, and I don’t like having to repeat myself—particularly when it comes to incompetent, irresponsible foreigners with hokey designations.  We threw you out 200 years ago; your digital attempt to get back in to make money is pathetic.

You and the Associated Press are out of control.  Wake up, and have your boy make a correction today, Lizzie.

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


History lesson: Senate Majority Leader

Testing the efficacy of a social media message

WARNING: You won’t find this in The Fountainhead or the copy of the U.S. Constitution that you carry around in your pocket.

Another one of Rupert Murdoch’s silly websites is factually inaccurate again.

Greta Van Susteren (in her headline, no less) blares, “Look who is going to Capitol Hill — on an invitation from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell!!”

!! (!)

Van Susteren has not replied.

As a voting citizen, you were involved in compiling a “Complete List of Majority and Minority Leaders (in fact that is exactly what it is called, and it is on your website).  You see?  He’s on the right (the losing side).

That is all elementary, but here is the big questionWho wrote the headline, “Caught between a job and your credit score“?

Hey kids! One positive outcome of this ridiculousness, is identifying, perhaps, what very-well could be the perfect responsive web design page! Watch what happens when you squish your browser window (which is, apparently, the ultimate test of this fabulous, fundamental new standard)! Try it!

Prediction: USA Today publisher Gannett will make a correction

USA Today publisher Gannett will make a correction to its latest story about credit scores.  You can believe that prediction because it isn’t easy to get around fundamental numbers.

USA Today claims that the VantageScore credit score scale is 501 to 999 when it is actually 501-990.

But, McPaper is in good company. Testifying before the U.S. House of Representatives, VantageScore chief Barrett Burns committed the same error twice, according to the official record.  VantageScore’s account of history is peculiarly different.

Further, Gannett will make a correction because the company has never come to terms with its inaccurate story about employers and credit scores.  The newspaper’s response was to use the pathetic and annoying “Read the story again” strategy.  Its editorial department (fine people, all) is, thankfully, cooperative and much wiser.  Happy Groundhog Day, by the way.

The numbers journalists use to add credibility to their stories are the same ones that can come back to bite them.