And who wants to know?

>> Thursday, November 11, 2010

After that business with the uncanny phone call the other day, I went ahead and did what every responsible person in this information age ought to do up to three times annually (once per credit bureau) and I always dally about and checked my credit report. You go to the website, pop in some information, and it tells you a ridiculous amount of information you're supposed to know about yourself and some things you probably didn't or had forgotten about; if you're fortunate, I mean--if you're unfortunate, it tells you your alternate mailing address is a cybercafe in Abuja and that you somehow and for some reason obtained a mortgage on a fix'er'upper in suburban Detroit located between one of the last great American tire fires and a yawning pit of capitol-"D" Despair full of Skeksis and their Gelfling slaves and all that.

On one level, checking my credit report moments after a weird phone call is knee-jerk paranoia and seemingly counterproductive insofar as, if the caller was phishing, surely they'd be doing mean and nasty things to my electronic, imaginary, financial self after talking to me, if I said anything, instead of before. But, thing is, if they already had information or were already poking around, maybe there would be some activity to be on the lookout for. And the credit report thing, as I understand it, lets you get one report from each of the agencies, meaning I can go back and check out a report from one of the other two agencies. Anyway, it seemed prudent and I thought it would maybe set my ill heart at ease a little.

Everything seemed fine, except one curious thing--or set of things--that probably means nothing but it gives you the Spocked eyebrow: payments are in order, there aren't any items I'm responsible for that I don't know about, nothing is tardy and I don't see any mysterious disasters, but I did find that at least two agencies I've never done business with have done frequent credit checks for whatever reason, and this is super-odd, maybe frustrating, and probably not anything that can be dealt with and we hope it doesn't turn into something terrible and painful.

First USA has pulled my credit report three times this year. This doesn't, according to the credit agency I pulled my report from, hurt my credit score, but who the hell is First USA. And it turns out if you Google First USA, one of the top results is this page at Consumer Affairs, full of comments from people complaining that First USA has made unsolicited credit report requests.

One commenter at the site, in two comments, alleges that First USA is technically defunct and the brand name may be in use by a "junk debt buyer" or collection agency; which is disturbing, if there's any truth to that. And one wonders why they're poking various folks' credit reports. What are they looking for? Who do they think you are? And who wants to know? I'm not exactly going to get stressed over this--I don't believe I actually have anything to worry about--but it's still the damnedest thing.

More explicable but still an irritant: the fine folks at Citi poked my report every month for more than a year. Considering that the time period coincides with the many months during which my mailbox inevitably had dozens of junk mailers from Citi that ended up torn up and stuffed in a garbage can outside so they never even entered my home, I do believe Citi was making unsolicited requests for my credit report to gauge my suckerocity.

Well, fuck 'em.

Why mention any of this? Well, one, if you're living in the United States, and you haven't checked your credit report lately or this year--and I imagine most of my regulars are more diligent and responsible than I am, knowing that crowd--go do it. And, two, sort of a "what the fuck?" again: I don't know that there's anything to be done about First USA or Citi or whomever doing this kind of thing, but it certainly seems squirrelly as hell, doesn't it? Precisely why it seems squirrelly isn't something I can quite buttonhole, honestly, at least not until or unless something outrageous happens.

Until or unless--I suspect one is impotent until the shit hits the fan, and maybe still even then. But this thought also leads to an answer to the rhetorical question asked in the title: I imagine you and I want to know, ought to know, need to know.


Mrs. Bitch Thursday, November 11, 2010 at 10:11:00 AM EST  

TransUnion shaved four years off my age, even after they asked for DOB. I'm glad such clever people have my financial well-being in their grimy little hands.

Eric Thursday, November 11, 2010 at 10:45:00 AM EST  

It's that kind of thing, Mrs. B., that gets you to worrying that it's not enough to pay your bills on time, etc. The obvious related tangent is the foreclosures scandal: a lot of people don't seem to realize that there have been cases in which those clever people have been filing foreclosure papers on accounts in good standing, and since the foreclosure mills are bypassing the filing procedures designed to keep mistakes from being made... yeah....

Tom Monday, November 15, 2010 at 11:10:00 AM EST  

Cap It Alone (or something similar. They run the words together, so how is any reasonable person to know what to call them?) is the company that regularly pokes my credit report. But I know it's because I'm soooo desirable to them, and they just can't resist. Someone who charges a grand or two a month? Their computer-driven mouths are watering. But they can't really see that the entire balance is paid every month. If they could, they'd realize that there's no money to be made from me. But I hate their commercials so much that even were I to want additional credit, it wouldn't be to them that I turn.

But wait! Should I not accede to their frequent requests that they be allowed to cover my balance every month without paying them interest? That would forsooth seem to be a fitting way to treat such mercenary merchants. And then cancel them at the first sign that they wish to charge me an annual fee or some such.

No, methinks 'tis better not to enter into business with scoundrels, no matter the provocation. You lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.

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