Equifax lets identity thieves raid "frozen" credit reports through its shady, obscure secondary credit bureau

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/05/09/centralized-credit-check-syste.html


I’m not sure when I ever was in control of my information.

Maybe the answer to this entire problem is for all of us to unanimously work to destroy our own credit ratings?

If it’s between me getting a bunch of expensive stuff and not paying for it, and some identity thief doing the same and leaving me devastated in their wake, I would rather have the stuff.

My mother had her identity stolen a few years back, and I saw the hoops she had to jump through to straighten it out. It was certainly far more work than the assholes that stole her identity had to go through to steal it in the first place. And they were never caught (or if they were we were never told).

If everyone’s credit is ruined a new system will have to rise from the ashes.


I froze my credit with all four agencies and then tried to shop for car insurance. I talked to the State Farm agent (shaming them here because they are spectacularly incompetent) and then went through the process of unfreezing my credit with the big three so that State Farm could check my credit to quote me for car insurance.

And… nothing happened, because State Farm has no way to deal with the PIN codes that are required to access a temporarily unfrozen credit report. They make a standard request using a prehistoric API, get no response (or a response saying “frozen” and that’s the end of their attempts. No way for an agent to call in and get the info, or for an alternative method of checking.

So, my takeaway is that freezing our credit reports is a good and necessary thing (and a hearty fuck you to TransUnion who charges to freeze and to unfreeze), but all the other companies who claim to need this info have yet to adapt. And probably won’t bother, because it’s on the customer to comply with their existing (broken) processes.

Burn it all down


My TransUnion file is completely buggered, and I finally gave up trying to fix it years ago. When I mention this fact to anybody who might be looking at my info the answer is always the same, “They’re the worst, everybody’s file is messed up there, we don’t pay any attention to what they say about you.”

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Some years ago I was dealing with the fallout from an aggrieved person at a bank who I used to have a mortgage with. They would pull hard credit reports from all three agencies twice a week and report a paid off mortgage as delinquent - for over 18 months until I hired a lawyer to make them stop.

I notified all three agencies via registered mail with proof of the fact the mortgage was paid off. None fo them responded within 30 days, so I mailed them again reminding them of their obligations under the consumer credit act (with a printout of the wording), that if they didn’t respond within 30 days they must remove it. Had to do that twice with Equifax and Experian and eventually they cleared it up. TransUnion never responded to any contact and never did anything about the bad info. And then a couple of years later, it just disappeared and my score went up by 100 points overnight.

The whole system is completely fucked up and needs to be dismantled and replaced with something that is more transparent and responsive (and regulated).


Equifax, Comcast, and Ticketmaster right in a row?! Are you trying to kill me Boing Boing?


The simple way to fix this is to change the law so that your consent is required before anyone can access your credit information.

If you are applying for a loan, you would get a notification that the lender wishes to access your credit, and you would grant permission. If you don’t recognize the entity trying to access your credit information, you would deny them access and everyone would be alerted to possible fraud.

Of course, this would reduce profits, so it’s a non-starter.

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My dear consumer; we aren’t accessing ‘your’ credit information. Merely the, no doubt impeccably maintained, records of certain loans made, invoices issued, and other information voluntarily provided by our member companies. The fact that inferences can be drawn from this voluntarily provided information(and, where they can’t, we’ll draw them anyway and treat them as authoritative) in no way suggests that these are ‘your’ information.

We appreciate your cooperation in clearing up this misunderstanding.

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