I recently tried to open an internet account only to be shot down because my credit report had an alert on it. This did not bother me in the least because I had an “Active Duty” alert status placed on my credit reports so that I would be notified in the event someone tried to open accounts or take out loans in my name. So, my initial thought is that the alert works really well, and that was comforting. It was only when I realized that I could not even open an account that I became irritated. I explained to the company my situation, verified all the information in my credit report (loans, lines of credit, middle name, birthday, last 2 addresses, etc) and the representative was more than understanding. He then informed me that the problem was that the companies I.D. verification team was unable to verify my identity by calling the phone number listed in my credit report. I explained that before I deployed I had my phone turned off and then provided him with a number that I could be reached at. That, unfortunately, would not suffice. The number by which they contact me had to be in my credit report.
So, this should be easy enough. I’ll call the 3 major credit bureaus and update my phone number and be done with this whole episode. Little did I know that nobody works at the credit bureaus (people actually work there but you wouldn’t know it if you are trying to reach them by phone). I called every number I could find on the internet, selected every option on the automated system, but no luck reaching an actual person. As frustrating as this situation is turning out to be, I am even more angry that an institution such as this is virtually unreachable. Maybe unreachable is extreme but EXTREMELY difficult is very fitting.
In today’s technological age, MAIL should NOT be the easiest, most efficient, and almost only way to communicate to a business or institution. With our country being so dependent on credit, every decision that is made based on credit, and your credit score determining your livelihood to a large extent, I find it odd that it is so hard to communicate with these institutions that watch your every move. They know your phone numbers, addresses, loan information, payment history, personal data, determine your risk, and assign a number to you. Yet, when it comes to updating your phone number with them you can’t even speak to a real person.
If they were businesses that had to compete in order to stay afloat they would not be around for long. Would you do business with a company that you couldn’t reach? Absolutely not. One could argue that there are multiple credit bureaus, they operate ‘for-profit’, and therefore my argument of no competition is void. However, it is known that all of the bureaus work together, have agreements, and have formed a trade organization so that they may all stand together and lobby in D.C. When all connected and working together there is no competition.
I had not thought about it until this incident how powerful these bureaus are. Everything you do in life, everything you aspire to do, everything you buy, every payment you make or miss, every place you live, the credit bureaus know about it. The number they attach to you determines what you are able to do in life when it comes to getting loans, buying a house, buying a car, or opening an internet account. A company that wields so much power and influence over your life should be a little easier for a person to get in touch with. There should be a more customer friendly credit bureau establishment so that American’s can actually interact with those that track them ever so closely. Or is that why the credit bureau is so hard to reach? They don’t want people to be able to get involved and have power over their financials.
My take: Quit living based on credit! I am currently working to get completely out of debt, and transforming my life to be based on savings. If I can’t afford it based on my savings, I save until I can afford it. This cuts the credit bureaus out of the picture, and the little number that they try to assign to me no longer has validity. It doesn’t help me any when trying to open accounts where my identity needs to be verified, but I pleases me to cut them out of my life anyway I can.