Credit Bureaus Sell Consumers’ Data

Consumers might assume that Experian, Trans Union and Equifax restrict the the information they collect to creditors to whom consumers have applied for credit. On the contrary, the credit bureaus sell personal and financial information to various companies. The credit bureaus were recently criticized by the national mortgage brokers’ association for selling “trigger lists” containing personal and financial information on prospective borrowers to sub-prime real estate lenders. Introduced in 2005 by Experian, a basic trigger list includes the names and contact information of people who recently applied for a mortgage. A more complete list includes credit scores, credit card debt summaries and estimates of the equity owned by prospective borrowers. By late 2006, consumers were complaining to the Federal Trade Commission that they were getting calls from sub-prime lenders as explained in a December 2007 article in USA Today.

The FTC, which is supposed to regulate credit bureaus, has taken no action on the sale of trigger lists according to USA Today.

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