Secret Credit Reporting Agencies Exposed
The Credit Reporting Agencies (CRA), Equifax, Experian and Trans Union are household names. All of the financial institutions use one, or all, of these CRAs to pull your credit when you apply for a loan. According to the latest federal law, once a year you can get a free copy of your credit report from these companies. If you have not taken advantage of this freebie, go to http://www.ftc.gov and follow the free credit report link.
This article however isn’t about the “big three” as they are now called. It is about the CRAs you have never heard of which means you don’t know they exist. If you don’t know they exist, you don’t know their potential danger to your personal financial health. Since I don’t like “secret” organizations possessing super detrimental powers, I authored this exposé. Exposé may be a bit of overkill but after you read it, decide for yourself.
You see, if you have ever had a telephone, checking account, ATM card, applied for an apartment, or done any of the consumer type things we all do, you might be in one of these unknown databases. I will begin with the organization commonly referred to as the “telephone bill deadbeat database” by the phone companies. The official name is the National Consumer Telecommunications Data Exchange, Inc. (NCTDE). It was “legalized” by the U. Department of Justice (DOJ) in September 1997 and went into operation in March 1998. I bet you didn’t know the DOJ had legislative power, did you? Privacy rights activists didn’t either but, to date, no amount of effort has been effective in dismantling what has become a behemoth in the telecommunications industry. The NCTDE (bureaucrats are fond of acronyms) is an information exchange service for its long distance carrier members. Each member reports the names of the people who failed to pay their long distance charges.
Not only do they report you to NCTDE but to a third party set up by the NCTDE to maintain the database. Equifax is that third party at present. The bright spot is the NCTDE database is managed in accordance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Chex System, TeleCheck and SCAN are well known to the merchants of this fine country. They each maintain a database of bad check writers. Your name could be on their list if you’ve written as few as one bad check and whether it was your fault or not. How can it not be your fault? If you are like me you sometimes forget to post a check in your register and before you know it, you’ve written another one and it clears before the first one. The result isn’t always a bounced check but it could be and bingo! you are now entered into the Chex System, TeleCheck and/or SCAN database. When this happens, they now have your name, address, telephone number, bank account number and whatever identification - usually driver license number - you put on the check per request of the store. I bet you’d agree that is a lot of information about you.
Once on this list, you can be refused check writing privileges by any subscribing merchant. Plus, you may not be able to open a checking account at your home town bank. That’s right, banks are subscribing members too. Since they do not make as much money from a checking account as they do their other services, they tend to monitor this area closely. While technically not the fault of these companies you were denied an account, they are still the ones maintaining the database so they take the heat. If you are having problems in this area, the best resource I can find for actual help and results is: http://www.creditinfocenter.com/FeaturedArticles/ChexSystems.shtml I am not affiliated in any way with this site and make not a dime from listing their website. If I had problems, this is the site I’d use.
Or, if you want to go it alone, here are their web addresses and toll free numbers: ChexSystems www.chexhelp.com 1-800-428-9623 SCAN www.scanassist.com 1-800-262-7771 TeleCheck www.telecheck.com 1-800-710-9898 Believe it or not, a Debit Bureau now exists. Just like credit bureaus aid in credit granting decisions, the Debit Bureau aids in debit granting decisions. ATM card issuance and limits thereon and check acceptance are examples of debit transactions as defined by banks.
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