From: Greg Fisher (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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.
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.
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.
From: Greg Fisher (email@example.com) Sent: Monday, September 30, 2013 9:27 AM To: Richard H. Brodhead, president, Duke University; Richard H. Brodhead, president, Duke University (via public affairs office); Irene Jasper, director, Student Lending, Duke University; Personal Finance@Duke, Duke University Cc: Alex Rosenberg, Department of Philosophy, Duke University Subject: credit score, employers, myth, falsity, truth, efficacy of a social media message, ivory tower
Your website states: “A poor credit score may mean having to make a large deposit in order to open an account with the electric company or to sign a new lease. It could even mean the loss of job opportunities.”
Employers do not use credit scores. I looked into it. See a five-year account of false statements (including yours, now), in this bizarre and fascinating phenomenon, documented at creditscoring.com. Apparently, you have not noticed the pages behind the links above. During your social media chat with Experian, will you address the notion regarding credit scores in employment alleged on your websites?
What evidence proves that employers use credit scores? What prompted the statement in your document? I am attempting to track the myth to its original source. Who provided—or how you came about—the misinformation is valuable.
Today, please acknowledge receiving this message.
There are many false statements; the one mentioned above has serious consequences. I believe that you and Experian have the burden to prove that your statements are true. Neither of you have provided any evidence.
A wild ride down a rabbit hole in New Jersey, the expert meets the dean of dating disasters and that (you know what).
nj.com (aka the Star-Ledger) publishes a letter from a reader, one “Harry in Basking Ridge,” who says he has a credit score that would be outrageously high on one score’s scale. He got it by applying for a credit card (an important point). But, he wants to know, essentially, why certain things “adversely” affect his score, and why the system could see his credit file as negative.
Reporters will be reporters, so the scribe with the by-line plows right in without getting clarification. Along for the ride is another willing quotable person as the newspaper reporter gives a wild explanation considering a multitude of fun facts, possibilities and speculations–about FICO scores, another score brand, a home equity line of credit, a personal line of credit, dubious advice about the proportion of balances to credit limits on revolving accounts and even mistaken identity.
Then, it goes off the rails with a comment about “default issues.”
Harry, that’s probably insulting, so a let’s talk.
While we’re waiting for him to make contact, consider a deeper implication of his scenario. Recent credit score disclosures, required by law, leave much to the imagination. One might say “Scores range from a low of 300 to a high of 850,” but what credit score it refers to is anybody’s guess.
Some disclosures say, “Your credit score ranks higher than [x] percent of U.S. consumers.” What the reader’s disclosure said in that regard is a mystery.
But, in a very peculiar case, another publication by the same company touched on the issue without even knowing it. If only…
Out of the disclosure rabbit hole (for now), we bravely head into the Fox hole known as dating. The newspaper named the New York Times made it all the rage this year with a lovely little Christmas day tale, but unfortunately for the Times, the facts (and errors by the Times presented as facts) are unraveling.
Now, Experian (whose hanger-on-to the Queen chairman, himself, is a story) jumps in with its freecreditscore.com band brand and a survey (catnip for journalists; see LSU, below).
But who wouldn’t want to see the ever-ebullient Dean of Dating, chuckling Chucky-Chuck Woolery, again?! He’s the expert on love, and John Ulzheimer is the expert on credit scores. Take a look, and come back in 2 and 2.
The takeaway for industry: Conduct a survey and get press, but be careful what you wish for.
The takeaway for citizens–consumers of news/infotainment: Don’t believe a thing that freecreditscore.com (Experian) says, despite their funny lip-synching, loveable loser band commercials.
Fox in the FOX house
“A poor credit score can haunt you throughout adulthood, affecting your ability to rent an apartment, finance a car, buy a home or even land your dream job.” – some guy, yesterday, published on a Fox Television Stations website
So, here we are. After 5 years, we still get a bald-faced and unsupported false statement like that. It is horrible. Notice the now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t change regarding a Louisiana State University study on a Rupert Murdoch website, the honorable correction by another party and the myth of the decade, still, on government websites.
In Florida, the state legislature session is underway, and members are discussing the use of credit reports in employment. Senator Nancy Detert is the introducer of Senate Bill 100, which was given 8 yeas and no nays this week. The myth continues as the senator and media unknowingly push it.
From: Greg Fisher [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org] Sent: Thursday, January 17, 2013 1:07 PM To: Regan McCarthy, senior producer/assignment editor, WFSU-FM/ Florida Public Radio Cc: Nancy C. Detert, chair, Committee on Commerce and Tourism, Florida Senate Subject: Florida Senate Committee on Commerce and Tourism
You wrote: “‘ As we turn the corner on the economy and try to get people back to work, one of the stumbling blocks is that we have employers pulling credit reports and not hiring you because you have a bad credit score. And I think that’s frankly, kind of dirty pool, unless you’re dealing with money or trade secrets or a whole list of exceptions,’ Detert said.”
From: Greg Fisher [mailto:email@example.com] Sent: Monday, November 26, 2012 3:01 PM To: Mallory McLean, press assistant, U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Cc: Richard Cordray, director, U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (via press office) Subject: Who changed the name of our Consumer Financial Protection Bureau?
Who changed the name of our bureau and when did they change it?
From: Greg Fisher [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org] Sent: Tuesday, April 24, 2012 5:05 PM To: Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D, director, National Institutes of Health (via J. Burklow); Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D, director, National Institutes of Health (via M. Allen); Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D, director, National Institutes of Health (via K. Cravedi) Cc: Dr. Woody; Dr. Woody (via Tom Estley); Rupert Murdoch, chairman and CEO, News Corporation (via Julie Henderson); Roger Ailes, chairman and CEO, Fox Business Network, Fox News, News Corporation; Roger Ailes, chairman and CEO, Fox Business Network, Fox News, News Corporation (alt I); Roger Ailes, chairman and CEO, Fox Business Network, Fox News, News Corporation (alt II); Irena Briganti, group SVP, Media Relations, Fox Business Network, Fox News, News Corporation; Brian Lewis, executive vice president, Corporate Communications, Fox Business Network, Fox News, News Corporation; Daniel S. Whitman, assistant professor, Rucks Department of Management, Louisiana State University Subject: credit score, employers, Fox Business, Act II, NIH
The authors of the report have not replied. One of them is quoted in a story dated one day ago and published by Rupert Murdoch of Fox Business Network and News Corporation. Murdoch published, “According to the Society for Human Resource Management, 60% of employers check applicants’ credit scores for at least some of their job candidates as part of their hiring process.” Then, the word scores changed to reports.
From: Greg Fisher [mailto:email@example.com] Sent: Wednesday, January 25, 2012 11:56 AM To: Sharon Cabeen, president, board of directors, Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education Cc: David S. Rowe, Work & Family Life financial educator, Naval District Washington Fleet and Family Services Subject: RE: credit score, employers, Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education (AFCPE), United State Department of Defense
From: Greg Fisher [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org] Sent: Wednesday, January 25, 2012 9:47 AM To: Jerome B. Gronfein, chairman, North Seattle Community College Foundation Subject: credit score, employers, digitaljournal.com, American Financial Solutions, North Seattle Community College Foundation, Jerome B. Gronfein
Your press release states: “Credit scores are an integral part of the financial portfolio for Americans. The score wields power on everything from employment opportunities to auto insurance rates and deposits on cell phones to qualifying for a home.
That statement is inaccurate; the consumer reporting agencies do not provide credit scores for employment purposes.
What are you doing to correct that inaccurate information?
The Credit Scoring Site creditscoring.com
PO Box 342
Dayton, Ohio 45409-0342
From: Greg Fisher [mailto:email@example.com] Sent: Wednesday, January 04, 2012 12:07 AM To: Steven D. Levitt, William B. Ogden distinguished service professor of economics, University of Chicago; Stephen J. Dubner, award-winning author, journalist, and radio and TV personality Cc: Jeremy Bernerth, assistant professor, Robert H. & Patricia Hines Professorship in Management, Rucks Department of Management, E. J. Ourso College of Business, Louisiana State University Subject: credit score, employers, LSU, Freakonomics