"Credit card info" alarmist email spam

I just received this email this morning from a distant aquiantance:

"Please read and forward on to anyone you think may be interested…

Just wanted to let everyone know who hasn’t already heard, the four major
credit bureaus in the US. will be allowed, starting July 1, to release your
credit info, mailing addresses, phone numbers… to anyone who requests
it. If you would like to ‘opt out’ of this release of info, you can call
1-888-567-8688. It only takes a couple of minutes to do, and you can take
care of anyone else in the household while making only one call, you’ll
just need to know their social security number. Be sure to listen closely,
the first opt out is only for two years, make sure you wait until they prompt
you to press ‘3’ on your keypad to opt out for good."

Anyone have the scoop on this? Is this really a new policy? Sounds like a potential scam for harvesting SS#s.

Credit bureaus have been allowed to release limited information without permission for some time. That’s why you get so many of those damned “pre-approved” credit card offers. Notice the offers go on to say that you may still be denied credit if, after a more thorough checking of your credit history, they don’t like what they see. Calling this number gets your info locked up a little tighter, so that ever general superficial inquiries aren’t possible.

From Hawaii’s Office of Consumer Protection Web Site:

It goes on to list that number (same as 1-888-5-OPTOUT) for Trans Union & Equifax, and another number for Experian.

Also found at the Public Interest Research Groups Web Site.

Man, I love snopes. Read the scoop here: http://www.snopes.com/inboxer/pending/credit.htm

A brief quote from that page:

“The key point is that – contrary to the text of the above dire warning – credit bureaus cannot sell your credit information to “anyone who requests it.” Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act of 1997, businesses seeking to obtain personal information from credit bureaus must have a “permissible purpose” in order to access credit reports. (Permissible purposes include checking the backgrounds of persons to determine their creditworthiness before selling or renting property to them, extending them loans or credit, or considering them for employment.)”

Here’s the scoop from snopes.com, I site I trust more than my own mother! (Of course, she still tells me that the gang-members-flashing-headlights-thing is true).


Chris S

Beat ya to it Slacker! :wink:

I am a manager with TransUnion, and the 888 number is a co-op effort mainly from Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Later, Innovis joined in to fund and support it.

That 888 number is 100% legit. You can use that number to opt out…to get yourself removed from the promotional mailings that the credit bureaus generate for major banks and other lenders.

Many of the credit card offers you get in the mail are started by bureaus creating mailing lists for the banks. It is a good way (calling the number) to eliminate alot of this mail. Other mail will still come from other sources (like your mortage company selling your info)

Keep in mind that most people got their credit cards through such offers, and that many take advantage of the offers - some are good, some are fuzzy, mind you.

The e-mail message is misleading if it tells you that anyone can obtain your credit report with your personal information. Your personal info is needed to commit fraud, but not at the credit bureau level. To get a credit report, you need to be a screened member of the bureau. If someone gets your report, that is not the real worry for you. ***The real concern is that they already had your I.D and might be able to create I.D cards to obtain instant credit at stores.

>>>Your personal ID can be used to create a fake ID and then to obtain instant credit in your name. The credit bureau will provide a credit report to companies who are members and have a legitimate business need for the report. The fraud is perpetrated against the store and finance company.

http://www.acb-credit.com (industry trade organization)

>>>>The best thing to do is visit the bureaus sites and think about getting and keeping an eye on your report. In some states, you get one free as per state law.

Don’t panic…just treat your name and SSN with reasonable security and keep an eye on your reports (if someone is applying for credit, it will show on your report in the “inquiry” section)

Here’s ACB’s official press release/response, in case this helps.

" July 19, 2001


A recent anonymous e-mail containing false and misleading information regarding the use of personal consumer data has been making the rounds of the Internet. Associated Credit Bureaus, Inc. would like to warn consumers about it.

The e-mail states that a new law went into effect July 1, which allows credit bureaus “to release your credit info, mailing addresses, phone numbers*to anyone who requests it”(sic). It then goes on to provide a phone number so the consumer can opt out of having this information released.

First, there was no such law that took effect July 1. The law that did go into effect on that date covers financial institutions like banks, insurance companies and brokerage firms. It states that these institutions can not provide a customer’s “nonpublic personal information” to third parties without a consumer’s consent. To meet this standard, lenders have been sending out disclosure statements to consumers noting that they have the right to opt out of having their “nonpublic personal information” shared.

It’s important to point out that credit reporting agencies are exempt from this law. Congress understood that data from lenders must be shared with credit reporting agencies in order for credit granting decisions to be made. Likewise, Congress knew that the same type of information had to be provided to a lender when a consumer was requesting credit from that lender so that a lending decision could be made.

The opt out information contained in the e-mail is correct and is not new. The credit reporting industry has been providing toll-free opt out numbers to consumers for years. In fact, when the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the federal law that regulates credit bureaus, was amended in 1996, it incorporated an opt out system similar to that being used at the time by credit reporting agencies.

The opt out number given in the e-mail, 1.888.567.8688, (1.888.5OPTOUT) is the credit reporting industry toll-free number that enables consumers to opt out of inclusion on any mailing list for pre-approved offers of credit generated by the major credit reporting agencies. It has been available to consumers since 1997. We have always encouraged those consumers to contact us if they want to opt out of receiving pre-approved credit offers. At the same time, since the mailings generated by credit reporting lists are a fraction of the total, we have told consumers they might want to contact others who provide direct marketing services as well.

There is one other major error implicit in the e-mail. Credit reporting agencies do not provide personal consumer data to “anyone who requests it”. Federal law prohibits the disclosure of consumer credit data to anyone other than for a “legitimate business need” and a" permissible purpose" under the provisions of the Fair Credit Reporting Act. In short, a consumer credit report is provided to legitimate businesses for the purpose of making a determination on the extension of credit and other consumer benefits. "