Monday, August 02, 2004

The credit reporting industry: dysfunctional and without hope

The New York Times > Business > Your Money > Spending: How to Mend a Credit Report That's Not Really Broken
'What we have is an industry that has completely run amok and is continuing to publish inaccurate information that harms consumers and does so without giving consumers an adequate remedy,' said Ian Lyngklip, a lawyer in Detroit who is representing Mr. Graham. 'Every one of these cases is like taking a little day excursion into the twilight zone.'

Lawyers and consumer advocates say the system is overwhelmed. Rather than truly investigating complaints, they say, the big credit bureaus make only cursory checks...

In June, U.S. PIRG, the Washington lobbying office for state Public Interest Research Groups, released a survey showing that 80 percent of credit reports had mistakes; one in four had errors serious enough that credit could be denied.

Complicating matters, lawyers say, collection agencies increasingly place even questionable debts on credit reports.

... Consumers should be sure to find lawyers familiar with the laws. Mr. Graham said he found his lawyer by going to the Web site of the National Association of Consumer Advocates.

The reporting agencies are in a competive environment. They are punished when they omit a problem from a credit report, they are not punished for falsely including a non-existent problem. QED -- everything else follows from these incentives.

Many of the post-911 proposals for population surveillance have even fewer safeguards than the credit reporting industry.

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