Credit Warning email is Bogus

Discussion in 'Credit Talk' started by bbauer, Aug 6, 2001.

  1. bbauer

    bbauer Banned

    Credit Warning E-Mail Is Bogus
    Associated Press

    6:18 a.m. Aug. 2, 2001 PDT

    NEW YORK -- There's a lot of useful information for consumers on the Internet. There's
    also a lot of misinformation.

    Take the case of an e-mail that's been cascading across the nation with a "warning"
    that credit bureaus starting July 1 will be releasing consumers' personal information "to
    anyone who requests it" unless consumers call a toll free number and opt out.

    It's not true. But worried consumers have kept the phones lit up at consumer advocacy
    groups and trade associations. The e-mail has been so widely circulated that even the
    Federal Trade Commission has issued a "consumer alert" to try to set the record
    No one knows where the erroneous e-mail originated, but many people who received it
    have passed it along to warn others.

    "We've gotten a lot of e-mails and phone calls from concerned consumers," said Beth
    Givens, director of the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse in San Diego, California. "The high
    volume signals to me that consumers are very concerned about their financial privacy."

    Among those who got the e-mail was Vicky Hardin, a computer specialist for a Texas oil

    "It really alarmed me," Hardin said in a telephone interview. "I don't want my credit
    information released to just anybody."

    Because the e-mail was so widely circulated at her company, Hardin checked it out with
    police, the FBI and other authorities. "I worry about ID theft, and I wanted to make
    (sure) it wasn't some big scam."

    The problem with the offending e-mail is that, like most rumors, it contains grains of

    July 1 was the federally mandated deadline for banks, brokerages and insurance
    companies to notify customers of new privacy policies. Under the rules, consumers can
    mail in "opt out" forms that prevent the financial institutions from sharing personal
    information about them with third parties.

    In addition, the toll-free number in the e-mail 1-888-567-8688 or 1-888-5OPTOUT is in
    fact a legitimate "opt out" phone service run by the nation's credit bureaus. Consumers
    can call the number and ask to be removed from mailing lists for unsolicited credit cards
    or so-called preapproved loan offers.

    Donald Girard, spokesman for Experian, one of the nation's largest credit agencies based
    in Orange, California, emphasized that "it's absolutely untrue that credit bureaus could
    hand out your private, personal information to anyone."

    To do so would be illegal under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which governs the handling
    of consumer information, Girard pointed out. "It would also be a dumb business move to
    violate anyone's privacy," he added.

    Associated Credit Bureaus, the trade association that represents Experian, Equifax,
    Trans Union and other credit reporting agencies, has been fielding dozens of calls and
    e-mails from worried consumers.

    "We want to make it perfectly clear that a consumer credit report is provided only to
    legitimate businesses for the purpose of making a determination on the extension of
    credit and other consumer benefits," said Norm Magnuson, a vice president with the
    Washington, D.C.-based trade group.

    He worried, however, that the erroneous e-mail would take on a life of its own.

    "One of the great things about the Internet is the ability to disseminate
    information at the click of a button," Magnuson said. "The downside is
    that things can be picked up and relayed and keep going and going and going."

    Catherine Pulley, a spokeswoman for the American Bankers Association in Washington, said that about the only good to result from the e-mail is that "it does have people talking
    about privacy." She stressed that "consumers should know their rights" and suggested that if they do have concerns, they should call their banks or other financial institutions.

    The text of an e-mail, which is largely incorrect, that has been circulated widely and has
    raised the concern of many consumers:

    "Just wanted to let everyone know who hasn't already heard, the four major credit bureaus in the U.S. will be allowed, starting July 1, to release your credit info, mailing addresses,phone numbers ... to anyone who requests it.

    "If you would like to 'opt out' of this release of info, you can call 1-888-567-8688.

    It only takes a couple of minutes to do, and you can take care of anyone else in the
    household while making only one call. You'll just need their Social Security number."

    The Federal Trade Commission, in a "consumer alert," says "this e-mail is full of half-truths and misinformation."
  2. Hal

    Hal Well-Known Member

    I've seen this email as well. One thing I have noticed, not necessarily in connection with the CRA's is that a lot of websites, as well as some notices with my credit card statements, are now indicating unless you specifically "OPT OUT" you are agreeing that they can share (sell) your information to others.
  3. bbauer

    bbauer Banned

    I'm like lots of folks probably are, wondering what to do with all those opt-out letters we keep getting.

    Do we fill them out, send them in or ignore them or what?

    I'll bet the last worm has yet to be shaken out of that can.
  4. lbrown59

    lbrown59 Well-Known Member

    If only
    If only folks would get this concerened and demand new credit laws with some real teeth in them"


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