Trans Union’s Tenant Screening Service Trips Up NPR Reporter

Bobby Allyn, a NPR reporter for station WHYY in Philadelphia writes in the Washington Post about his experience with Trans Union having mixed his identity with that of a criminal imprisoned in Tennessee. Mr Ally had applied to rent an apartment in Philadelphia. The landlord ran his name through Trans Union’s tenant screening service (called SmartMove). Unfortunately for Mr. Allyn, SmartMove reported he had a dozen criminal convictions on his rap sheet. Mr. Ally called Trans Union to complain about the error; a representative told him the records were from Rutherford County Circuit Court in Tennessee outside of Nashville where Mr Allyn used to live. Mr Ally called the court clerk who said they had records on a person named Bobby Allyn born in the same year as the reporter. The person with the criminal records was incarcerated and African American unlike reporter Allyn.

The landlord accepted Mr Allyn’s explanation and he got the apartment, but Mr Allyn points out that as an investigative reporter, he was better equipped than most people to deal with such a problem. Mr Ally also references studies on the credit reporting agencies’ error rates.

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