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.

Myth: Employers use credit scores (video) – National Financial Literacy Month

National Financial Literacy Month – Video illustrates myth that employers use credit scores video shows media, experts, central bank and legislators furthering the myth that employers use credit scores in hiring decisions.

Myth: Employers use credit scores
Myth video: Employers use credit scores

NBC TODAY: Employers use credit scores

The consumer reporting agencies all state that they do not provide credit scores for employment screening.

However, last month on NBC, “TODAY” host Matt Lauer introduced a segment with this line:  “This morning on TODAY’S MONEY, five ways to improve your credit score. It impacts all areas of your life from getting loans to how much you pay for insurance, even whether or not you might get a job.”

The interviewee, “TODAY” financial editor Jean Chatzky, does not disagree with Lauer’s statement.

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Earlier this year on ABC‘s “Good Morning America,” George Stephanopoulos said that your credit score is the key to getting a good job.  CBS did the dubious deed three years ago.

Good Morning America says credit score key to job

Last week on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” host George Stephanopoulos introduced a segment by saying, “You know, your credit score is the key to getting a credit card, a mortgage– even a good job.”  The accompanying web page says, “Credit scores can affect many aspects of your life, your ability to get a credit card, a mortgage and even a job.”

The interviewee, Mellody Hobson (who ABC calls an expert and Guru), did not disagree.  Previously, Hobson said that the average credit score is 676 when the median FICO score was known to be 723 (click on “yuk it up“).

Meanwhile, the consumer reporting agencies all state that they do not provide credit scores (wacky video) for employment, an actual verifiable fact that ABC failed to report.

Laura Zaccaro, whose name appears as the co-author of the web page said that her sources include Tory Johnson and FICO.  In 2008 FICO referred to “anecdotal information gleaned from public sources such as published articles.”

Last month, the Federal Reserve told Congress that employers use credit scores.

Kucinich, DFAS, ABC, employers and credit scores

According to the web site of Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), employees at a federal agency have been suspended due to low credit scores.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich

A press release on states, “The bipartisan group requested a suspension of a policy that has resulted in the unjust suspension of employees for reasons such as a low personal credit score until a full review can be conducted.”

The sub-headline is “Employees Suspended Indefinitely for Reasons such as Low Credit Scores.”

The release refers to a letter to the director of the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) that was signed by Kucinich and three other Ohio members of the House of Representatives.  The letter uses the term “credit rating,” but does not contain the word score.

Consumer reporting agencies Equifax, TransUnion and Experian all state that they do not provide credit scores for employment screening.  A day before the Representatives’ letter, TransUnion submitted written testimony to the House Financial Services Committee stating: “We believe it is worth noting that credit scores are not used in connection with employment. TransUnion will not provide any score on a credit report that is obtained for employment purposes.”

A. Troy Marshall is the president of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) – Local 3283.  Representative Marcia L. Fudge is a member of the House of Representatives from Ohio’s 11th district.  ABC news reports, “Marshall, however, argues that DFAS is making decisions based simply on the credit score” and “Like Fudge, Marshall says he’s not opposed to credit checks in principal, but says he believes the government should take an employees‘ performance and work history into account instead of relying just on a credit score.”

The Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals reviews cases regarding employees, contractors, security clearances and debts using the “whole-person analysis.”

Credit Karma suggests having creditors lie to credit bureaus

Credit Karma suggests groveling
Credit Karma suggests groveling

Credit Karma CEO Ken Lin says that if you don’t like your credit history, just make one up.

Yesterday, the ABC News NOW interview subject said to beg your lender to change its report to the consumer reporting agencies about you to something more positive.  Lin thinks pestering the bank helps, too.  “You might want to try multiple times if you don’t get a good result the first time,” he said.

Anchor Tanya Rivero plays right along as Lin says, “It’s been known to happen where you can get a lender to remove a delinquency particularly if you were traveling or some other occurence happens.” 

Lin’s malarkey about lying is known elswhere as the Goodwill Adjustment, and is a fashionable notion in pop media circles.

(This vidcap that makes him look like a bozo is a coincidence.)

Debt utilization, how much owed compared to capacity to borrow, ABC News

Sent: Friday, June 05, 2009 12:09 PM
To: Alice Gomstyn
Cc: Emily Peters


You wrote, “Peters says that nearly a third of your credit score is dependent on how much you owe, compared to how much you have the capacity to borrow — your debt utilization.”


If that ratio represents almost a third of the FICO score, then what percentage does the “Number of accounts with balances” represent?