Last week in the process of renewing a business credit line, my bank checked my credit as a matter of course.
The next day, “Jeff” with “American Equity” or something along those lines left me a message. He was “verifying” a recent transaction and was calling “…to assure me that the terms of my loan were the best options available to me or to make sure that I was offered the best terms available in the marketplace”….or some other malarkey.
It was pretty convincing. It sounded like someone calling on behalf of my bank. It would have to be right? My bank wouldn’t inform any other entities of my business dealings with them…right?
So I called “Jeff” back. He was a bit surprised by my accusatory tone once he informed me that he had nothing to do with my bank and where he got the information.
It turns out Jeff’s company, which has absolutely nothing to do with my bank, subscribes to a service that alerts them to credit checks of highly qualified borrowers. Within 24 hours. Name, phone number and amount borrowed are all provided for a fee.Who provides this data you ask? Is it a form of identity theft?
It turns out Experian, one of the “Big Three” credit bureaus, provides this data to other lenders when you apply for credit. Apparently, they don’t have to inform you, and if I hadn’t received “Jeff’s” cold call, I would never have known that my name, phone number, credit score and transaction information are available to anyone willing to pay a fee for it.
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That’s nice. I’d actually prefer a little privacy when I shop for credit.
I haven’t verified this yet but apparently you can call Experian and opt out. Gee, thanks for the consideration. Thanks for taking up my time to call you, presumably wait on hold, and take back my rights to privacy.
I guess I always considered the credit bureaus to be in the business of tracking and evaluating potential credit consumers. I also assumed that my credit information was not accessible without my consent.
Wrong on both counts.
Word to the wise.