Forbes’ attempt at hipness; Forbes’ correction policy

Ah, youth, and fabulous New York.

The “journalist,” “Interactive Editor,” and “web editor” now works for Reuters, who has it all figured out.

And if you think that’s rich

 

[ORIGINAL MESSAGE]

From: Greg Fisher [mailto:greg@creditscoring.com]
Sent: Wednesday, July 20, 2011 11:43 PM
To: Heather Struck, reporter, Forbes; Heather Struck, reporter, Forbes
Subject: credit score, employers, Forbes, 2011-07-20

See this message and your response at http://blog.creditscoring.com/?p=2274, http://blog.creditscoring.com/?cat=134 and http://blog.creditscoring.com/?tag=forbes.

You wrote

But one’s creditworthiness, as reflected in a FICO score or a credit report, now affects a lot more than the ability to borrow money or buy something on credit. It can affect whether you get a job, what you pay for insurance, and even how your personal relationships work out.

and

Employment consultants say a troubling credit score may cause hiring officers to more closely question an applicant. Vic Tanon, chief simplicity officer at Emplicity, an organization that consults in hiring practices across the U.S., says a bad credit rating is likely to be more of a factor in certain industries like financial services.

Who is your source regarding credit score use by employers?


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

 

 

From: Greg Fisher [mailto:greg@creditscoring.com]
Sent: Monday, July 25, 2011 3:10 PM
To: Vic Tannon, chief simplicity officer, CEO, founder and president, Emplicity
Cc: Heather Struck, reporter, Forbes; Heather Struck, reporter, Forbes; Monie Begley, Forbes
Subject: RE: credit score, employers, Forbes, 2011-07-20, Emplicity

Did you discuss the topic of credit scores with Forbes?


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

 

 

From: Struck, Heather
Sent: Monday, July 25, 2011 3:09 PM
To: Greg Fisher
Subject: Out of Office: credit score, employers, Forbes, 2011-07-20, Emplicity

I am out of the office at a Fellowship orientation until July 31. Please excuse my late replies to emails. If you need immediate assistance, please contact Tina Russo. [Russo's email].

 

 

From: Greg Fisher [mailto:greg@creditscoring.com]
Sent: Monday, July 25, 2011 9:28 PM
To: Tina Russo, senior editor, Forbes
Subject: FW: credit score, employers, Forbes, 2011-07-20, Emplicity

—–Original Message—–
From: Struck, Heather
Sent: Monday, July 25, 2011 3:09 PM
To: Greg Fisher
Subject: Out of Office: credit score, employers, Forbes, 2011-07-20, Emplicity

I am out of the office at a Fellowship orientation until July 31. Please excuse my late replies to emails. If you need immediate assistance, please contact Tina Russo. [Russo's email].

 

 

From: Struck, Heather
Sent: Wednesday, August 31, 2011 5:56 AM
To: greg@creditscoring.com
Subject: RE: credit score, employers, Forbes, 2011-07-20, Emplicity

Dear Greg,

My apologies for not responding to this until now. I am unsure if you spoke directly with him, but Vic Tannon was my source for that statement. Perhaps there is something you can add?

Heather Struck
Forbes
Markets, New York
[phone]
Follow me: http://blogs.forbes.com/people/hstruck/

 

 

From: Greg Fisher [mailto:greg@creditscoring.com]
Sent: Wednesday, August 31, 2011 7:43 AM
To: Heather Struck, reporter, Forbes
Cc: Monie Begley, Forbes; Tina Russo, senior editor, Forbes; Vic Tannon, chief simplicity officer, CEO, founder and president, Emplicity
Subject: RE: credit score, employers, Forbes, 2011-07-20, CRAs

The consumer reporting agencies do not provide credit scores for employment purposes.

What correction will you make?


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

 

 

From: Struck, Heather [mailto:HStruck@forbes.com]
Sent: Wednesday, August 31, 2011 8:01 AM
To: greg@creditscoring.com
Cc: Begley, Monie; Russo, Tina; Vic Tannon, chief simplicity officer, CEO, founder and president, Emplicity
Subject: RE: credit score, employers, Forbes, 2011-07-20, CRAs

I understand your point, but it is very clearly sourced. The point there is some occupations have been known to look at credit scores in an evaluation, according to this source. I agree this point needs clarification, and you are very welcome to post a comment on the story.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/heatherstruck/2011/07/20/credit-score-fico-can-hurt-you/

Thanks for the note,

Heather Struck
Forbes
Markets, New York
[phone]
Follow me: http://blogs.forbes.com/people/hstruck/

 

 

From: Greg Fisher [mailto:greg@creditscoring.com]
Sent: Wednesday, August 31, 2011 1:12 PM
To: Heather Struck, reporter, Forbes
Cc: Monie Begley, Forbes; Tina Russo, senior editor, Forbes; Vic Tannon, chief simplicity officer, CEO, founder and president, Emplicity
Subject: RE: credit score, employers, Forbes, 2011-07-20, clarity

Only you mentioned clarification so there is nothing to agree upon.

According to consumer reporting agency TransUnion, a “rating” is the manner of payment of an individual account.

Who are your other sources?

What authority do you, as the writer, have in making corrections of errors of fact, or clarifications of unclear stories or attribution published by Forbes?


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

 

 

From: Struck, Heather
Sent: Wednesday, August 31, 2011 2:00 PM
To: greg@creditscoring.com
Subject: RE: credit score, employers, Forbes, 2011-07-20, clarity

My editor has authority to make corrections. You can be in touch with him if you like.

Matthew Schifrin - [email address]

Thanks -

Heather Struck
Forbes
Markets, New York
[phone]
Follow me: http://blogs.forbes.com/people/hstruck/

 

Experian claims employers consider credit scores for hiring

A long time ago, Experian, itself, stated, “Experian’s business policy prevents the inclusion of credit scores with an employment report, at Experian called Employment Insight.”

Today, however, Experian states, “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.”

That quotation is from ProtectMyID, a “part of Experian.”

In the United Kingdom, for that kind of monkey business, you are rewarded with knighthood.

And, with that, we have a new countdown.

 

Experian – Contradictory statements about credit scores and employers

Experian states, “More employers than ever are checking the credit scores of potential applicants, and that could create a vicious cycle, according to a report from the Minneapolis Examiner.”

The title and headline accompanying the statement is “More Employers Check Applicants’ Credit Scores.”

However, Experian claims that it does not provide credit scores for employment purposes.

Experian’s new British Empire

(coming to a search engine result near you)

In one fell ($2-hundred million) swoop, Experian acquired some serious internet real estate related to credit reports and credit scores: CreditReport.com and CreditScore.com.

And, in a truly odd chapter, as the FreeCreditReport.com debacle played out, Experian obtained FreeCreditScore.com (now of MTV fame) through a bankruptcy-related gambit.

“This case presents a somewhat unsettling-but we suspect common-set of facts.” – U.S. Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit

But, it’s never tidy.  If you can’t beat ‘em, buy ‘em.

Average FICO credit score missing

Just when Wikipedia gets its act together, the average FICO credit score goes missing.

In the first story of Two and Two (a new section on creditscoring.com), questions are posed to FICO.  The median, the mean, the CEO, and an absent Experian all play their parts.

Things just don’t add up.  How is America supposed to know where it stands?  Is the average going up, or down?  What’s the big secret?

Experian: Employers use scores, but we don’t provide them to employers

Experian told John Ulzheimer what is not in employment reports.  One of those things is “Credit score (read that again please….credit score is not included).”

However, the consumer reporting agency still maintains, “Credit scoring helps potential lenders, landlords, and employers quickly gauge an applicant’s credit history.”

Experian chairman John Peace got some of it right before his big announcement in July, but he has other things to do, now.

Enough to be Dangerous: CreditCards.com

Recently, Experian (“the leading global information services company”*) announced that it and CreditCards.com “will co-host a live, interactive, online town-hall discussion of credit reporting and scoring.”  CreditCards.com made the same announcement, replete with countdown clock to the exciting event.

Experian’s newfound public outreach/reach-out for goodwill follows the drubbing it took at the hands of Congress and the FTC regarding the FreeCreditReport.com debacle.  Among other adventures, Chairman John Peace and Experian have traveled the the viral video route recently.  There’s a fab, telegenic, “STYLISH, SMART, & SASSY” (click “HOSTING REEL” for a demo if you’re interested), newly-minted credit history expert and a bevy of B-list stars.  It’s all packaged up with cutesy, sprightly and playful plucking strings to indicate when it is time to laugh (and you will need it), similar to scenes on Wisteria Lane and at Seattle Grace.

If you think that you can manage all that (and would want to), Experian is still looking for you.

CreditCards.com knows Enough to be Dangerous.  They would have you believe that credit score factors include “employment, income” (FICO scores do not consider income and employment), and even ”debt to income ratio.”  And, speaking of experts and employment, the consumer reporting agencies do not provide credit scores for employment purposes.  But today, while a battle rages in statehouses from coast-to-coast, one of the CreditCards.com’s ”experts” wrote that employers use credit scores.  It wouldn’t be the first time that that happened.  And, they are in good company.

Take what these two tell you with a grain of salt.  And if you participate in their forum, be sure to ask about your AWOL Experian FICO score, and what they are talking about with the line:  “Credit scoring helps potential lenders, landlords, and employers quickly gauge an applicant’s credit history.”

 

 

*as opposed to Equifax, “A global leader in information solutions” (and, indeed, “Leading with Integrity“), or TransUnion, “a global leader in credit and information management.”

mint.com and Experian – strange bedfellows

See if you can follow this.

The players

The Consumerist, a former property of notorious Gawker Media, is now owned by Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports.  The move is nearly inexplicable, but, apparently, CU thinks that that is how to get young and hip.  But there is a firewall.  A new entity, Consumer Media LLC, houses The Consumerist.  The domain was registered by Consumers Union in December, 2008.  Requests for the home page of http://consumermediallc.org/ are redirected to consumerist.com.

Mint.com is owned by Intuit, the publisher of Quicken personal finance software.  Mint/Quicken is a Believer, saying, viral video-style:

These days, credit scores are not only used by lenders but by everyone from landlords to prospective employers.  A bad score can keep you from getting an apartment, a mobile phone or even a job. – Quicken, March 4, 2010

Now before you get sucked in by that bit about employers, see this video for another perspective.

Other minty-fresh advice includes: 

Make a large purchase using your credit card and pay it off immediately. This impressive payment behavior will earn you good marks. - Mint.com

The only guy likely to be impressed is the one you buy the big-screen TV from .  A history of a large balance is not part of the FICO score scheme.  And the only way to create a credit card history is to let a balance ride long enough to have a record.  Further, as everybody knows by now, high balances compared to limits kill.  But do enjoy your fabulous vacation.

Now, back to the story

Last week, the Consumerist gushed, “Mint.com has an exhaustive article about perfecting your credit to achieve the highest possible ‘elite’ score: anything over 800.”

Exhaustive?  Hardly.  More like exhausting.

According to Mint, the article (“Can You Increase Your Credit Score to 850″) is provided by Experian.com.

Experian.com in that sentence actually links to the disgraced FreeCreditReport.com owned by Experian. The national consumer reporting agency’s Web site was even parodied by its own regulator, the Federal Trade Commission. In the ultimate irony, the FreeCreditReport.com’s home page has to ask the question a consumer might wonder about a site with such a name: “Why isn’t my Credit Report free?” Oft-quoted credit report expert John Ulzheimer calls a recent FTC action the Experian Rule.

Mint.com addresses the concerns of its members:

We link to services provided by two of the largest credit bureaus (FreeCreditReport.com by Experian and TrueCredit by TransUnion) because banks and financial institutions check your credit profile with these bureaus. The services give you access to your credit score, credit report, and credit monitoring alerts.

Fake-O FICO Funk

However, the credit score at Experians’s FreeCreditReport.com is not sold to lenders. That score, the PLUS, is a Fake-O (a term acquired by a member of Congress in a hearing  last month).

Lots of people in social media dig the 850 score Mint article.  In its first paragraph, it mentions a consumer who thinks he is “a financial unicorn,” and explains that only 5.7% of Americans achieve an 800 (according to Credit Karma). The next paragraph refers to the consumer’s FICO score. However, FICO states that roughly one in 8 have a score of 800 or more.  Further, myFICO.com illustrates the 800 club with the figure 13%, not 5.7.

And then, there’s this in the Mint piece:  “Since debt utilization makes up 30 percent of your credit score – the second biggest factor after timely payments – carrying a balance can keep you out of the credit-elite category.”

So, here’s the big question:  If debt utilization is 30%, then what percentage is “Number of accounts with balances“?  And, what percentage is the “Lack of a specific type of balance, in some cases”?

Finally, Mint.com suggests, “In general, the rules to join the credit elite are simple: make timely payments, keep your credit utilization up to about 25 to 35 percent of your available credit, and minimize credit inquiries.”  But, FICO disagrees. Su–ze — Or–man, whose face you can see– right– on– myFICO.com, writes, “The FICO brain trust says there is no specific number that qualifies as a ‘good’ ratio, just that lower is always better.” And, FICO spokesman Barry Paperno said, flat out, “The lower that utilization number is, the better it is for your score.” The scrap heap of comments in that regard just got a little bigger.

Impossible

But, by far, the worst thing about the Mint credit score article is that its “provider,” Experian, can’t even come to an arrangement with FICO to allow consumers to see their FICO score like the other two national consumer reporting agencies.  And the scale of the PLUS score, the score to which the article links through FreeCreditReport.com, ends at 830, not 850 as in the title. In other words, you could do everything right– make all your payments on time, pay down your credit cards, have the optimum number of accounts– and pay the admission to check your score regularly and religiously for years.  But you would never get to 850 because that number doesn’t exist in the PLUS score range.

If the notion behind Consumers Union is buyer beware, reader beware of Consumers Union.  One thing is for sure:  Whenever Experian or Consumers Union is involved, nonsense is sure to follow.

Experian’s sloppy work

Experian continues to sell credit scores saying that employers use them, while stating that employers do not use them.

They just don’t pay attention (too busy preening for the camera and creating bizarre advertisements).

While waiting for Experian to blink, see some other screw-ups by the British:

  1. Credit scores represents your creditworthiness and indicate the likelihood that you will repay a debt as agreed.”
  2. “However, a credit scores are not stored as part of your credit history.”
  3. And, the best one: “Credit scores are based entirely on the information found on an individual’s credit scores.”

Let’s hope so.

A senator, credit scores, losers and fake guitar playing


The lyrics to FreeCreditReport.com’s latest ditty:

Wanted to get myself a new cell phone
So I could hear myself at a ring tone
Who knew the store would go and check my credit score?
Now all they let me have is this dinosaur
Hello? Hello? Hello? Can anybody hear me?
I know. I know. I know. I should have gone to

FreeCreditReport.com
That’s where I should have gone. Could have got my knowledge on

ANNOUNCER: Free credit score and report with enrollment in Triple Advantage.

Meanwhile, in a not-so-veiled reference to Experian (the owner of FreeCreditReport.com) U.S. Senator Charles Schumer states, “If these companies want to say – or sing for that matter – that they are giving people free credit reports, then they can’t charge people $15 a month, simple as that.”  On his website, Schumer continues, “My plan would finally bust up this scam and give consumers some honest choices”

One problem, as stated in the FreeCreditReport.com Terms and Conditions:  “The PLUS Score is not currently sold to lenders, and is not an endorsement or guarantee of your credit worthiness as seen by lenders.”

So, it really is true:  You don’t get what you don’t pay for.  See Fake-O FICO Funk.

Speaking of videos, don’t miss creditscoring.com’s montage of people talking about employers using scores– while the bureaus say that they don’t even sell scores for that purpose.