Daily slog o’ da blog: What credit score are you talking about?

Da nooz of da day

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.

Here’s the thing: In theory, all credit scores are all negative, unless perfect. And, they all come with reasons that the score is not higher. The only other non-negative possibility is Dave Ramsey‘s oft-repeated misinformation piece: No score due to lack of, or insufficient, credit history (just not enough data to go on to even calculate a score).

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

Dating (again)

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.

Of all the Chucks, this guy is, well, one of them (because the best still rocks (‘n rolls)).

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.

Senate Majority Leader; credit scores

This is an allegory to The McConnell Bind, a method to force corrections of big-media articles containing errors of fact about credit scores.

The corollary, Senate Majority Leader, starts here, and ties inaccurate credit score articles to screw-ups about U.S. Senator Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) position in the legislature. Ignoring one is irresponsible.  Ignoring the other is downright un-American.

Here goes.

A Washington Post Writer’s Group piece, released in syndication, states, inaccurately, “Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid predicted at a news conference in Las Vegas that ‘immigration is going to pass the House of Representatives’ and insisted that ‘if [the GOP] were smart, they would take [the Senate] bill’ and start from there.”

But, it is elementary: Senator Reid is the majority (not minority) leader.

The tie-in:  In 2009, the Washington Post published this needlessly scary thought: “And a lower credit score means you pay more for the money you borrow. It can also mean higher insurance rates for your home or car, or worse, the loss of a job.”

Of course, employers do not use credit scores, so relax (and don’t believe da Post’s other scribblings, either).

The first attempt at contact (in this round), regarding this matter of American history, was social media.  That having failed, email is next, and then, if that doesn’t work, the postcard!

Consumer Reports error in July, 2013 issue

Email didn’t work.  Calling for his resignation didn’t work.  An overnight train trip to his office didn’t work.  And now, in this month’s edition, in an unsubstantiated screed by its president and CEO, Consumer Reports magazine misinforms consumers about credit scores again.

James Guest writes, “The score that lenders really use may factor into your chances of getting a car loan, a mortgage, or a job, and into what you’ll pay in interest, as a deposit for rent and utilities, and, in many states, for insurance.”

Five years on, as the truth implodes in statehouses, this strange chapter is more fascinating than ever.  Get the history, and read the story about Consumer Reports (and the governor of the State of New York) on the Credit Scoring Site.

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


ABC News inaccurate reports on U.S. history, credit scores

Giving an incorrect title to the majority leader of the U.S. Senate, ABC News stated, inaccurately (in its story’s first sentence, no less), “After Senate Republicans  last night blocked the $7 billion aid package for relief funding of the natural disasters that have swept the country this summer, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., announced today that he’d try again this afternoon.”

The item is a written piece dated September 13, 2011 on the blog known as The Note and titled “Senate to Give FEMA Funding Another Try.”

The television network company also reported, in error, that employers use credit scores.  That urban legend has serious consequences.

False information on government website

The efficacy of a social media message

Lena Taylor
Senator (D-Milwaukee), Wisconsin legislature

Employers do not use credit scores because they cannot even get them.

However, you wrote, “Approximately 40% of employers check credit scores when making hiring decisions.”

So, your information is false.  Who provided that statistic?

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

Wisconsin Capitol
Wisconsin Capitol
Wisconsin Capitol (aerial view)
Wisconsin Capitol (aerial view)

What lies beneath

A further test of the efficacy of a social media message

Our house is on fire.” – Scott Pelly, anchor and managing editor, CBS Evening News

Sumner Redstone
KYW-TV, FCC License File Number: BLCDT-20090326ABH
CBS Broadcasting Inc.
National Amusements
Norwood, Massachusetts

You continue to misinform citizens, and I am not going to tolerate it.  Stop it today.

Beneath your website page, in the HTML (hypertext markup language) source code, you state:

<metaproperty=”og:description”content=”Whether you’re hoping to buy a new home, a new car or even find a new job – you’d better be sure your credit score is in good shape, it’s being used in more ways than you might think. “/>

So, when you replied, linking your social media message to that page, the unintended consequence was that you kept reporting false information.  The portion of your website that appears in the message summary is the (factually inaccurate) HTML metadata description above.

In your video report (in which the syndicated error and zombie myth lives on), your anchor said, “Whether you’re hoping to buy a new home, a new car or even find a new job – you’d better be sure that your credit score is in good shape.”

Employers do not use credit scores, and you should know it.  If you don’t know it, then you are out of control.

Who wrote the word job in that sentence?  I asked your reporter, “.@jimdonovancbs3 @CBSPhilly, who told you that?” and he did not answer the question. The same report in Rhode Island is no coincidence.  The error has serious consequences for Pennsylvanians.

Pennsylvania Capitol Rotunda

And, what is this business about 30 percent?  Who said that that is “ideally” the right number to be under?

I didn’t write the book about credit scores; I wrote the website.

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

PS No phone calls.