Debunkers, debunk this...

I was randomly wandering around the net, when I ran on to this looney’s “rant.” I know he’s full of it, but I couldn’t figure out the precise hole…lil help? :slight_smile:

http://www.ferns.org/current.htm

The ranter’s main theme revolves around getting a new SSN to avoid having a poor credit record. Here is what the Social Security Administration says about obtaining a new number:

So, the big problem with the rant is that you are committing fraud IMO.

Also note that your old SSN doesn’t disappear nor do the records associated with.

Not to mention that you are entering into a contract with the company you get a credit card from, whatever your credit rating might be. You are liable for payment under terms of that contract, insofar as it doen’t violate any applicable laws. His opening statement that credit rating is the only recourse open to the credit card company is patently false. At the end of the day, they can collect their money in civil court, and would probably do so if the amount was large enough.

The SSN number being compromised is bunk, too. Cecil started to cover this here:

Insurance companies use the SSN for an ID because it’s convenient, and because if they issue any Disability Benefits to replace your salary, it’s taxable and they have to have your SSN anyway.

Credit agencies also crossreference by name (someone that shares my name had a habit of not making their house payments and credit card payments and it wound up on my credit rating. That’s why you need to check your credit rating occasionally). Crossreferencing by SSN is probably already done because of spouses and dependents which can affect your rating.

Even if credit companies do have no other recourse (besides silly things like salary garnishment - after all, it is a legal debt), I would not mess with them. I paid a plumbing bill with a check one time, and they accepted it without question. I asked why they took the check without any extra ID or anything…he said you might get by with not paying your bill once, and maybe even twice. But one day you’re going to be ankle deep in sewage and no one will answer your call.

Call it karma if you like.

Aside from the SSN thing…

The second part of the rant instructs you contest all of the bad marks on your credit rating thereby giving you a “squeaky clean” credit rating for 30 days.

Two problems here:

  1. No, it doesn’t. When you contest a bad mark on your credit report, the reporting agency doesn’t clear it off of the report for 30 days while they request verification from the credit card company. They mark it as disputed (while it remains on your record), and then request verification. However, if they don’t receive this verification within 30 days, they are required to remove it.

  2. Even if you contest every bad mark, and they aren’t verified, and therefore removed from your credit report, this does not leave you with a “squeaky clean” credit rating. It leaves you with NO CREDIT at all. Admittedly this is better than bad credit, but you’re still not going to buy a fancy new Beemer with no credit.

*Disclaimer: I can only speak for how the system works in the U.S.

To be fair, I emailed him with a link to this discussion, to get his point of view. The following is what he replied:

"I went to your link. Of course the group there is narrow-minded. For example the individual that says that you would be left with NO credit rather than good credit. That is assuming that you had NOTHING that you paid for properly. I suggested that people pay for anything that was secured debt. The Plummer example is an example of theft of service, and can be remedied by a workman’s lien. As far as the bad marks not being removed, but “marked” as in dispute, all I can say is that this individual has obviously NEVER contested anything having to do with his credit.

Thanks for reading my site, maybe some of the other rants would be more to your liking…
Jon M. Ferns"

sethdallob, I admire your fairness.

To Mr. Ferns, I say emphatically nuh-uh.

I get my info both from personal experience, and from the Law School at Cornell.

Here’s the relevant passage from the law:

*"(A) In general
If the completeness or accuracy of any item of information contained in a consumer’s file at a consumer reporting agency is disputed by the consumer and the consumer notifies the agency directly of such dispute, the agency shall reinvestigate free of charge and record the current status of the disputed information, or delete the item from the file in accordance with paragraph (5), before the end of the 30-day period beginning on the date on which the agency receives the notice of the dispute from the consumer. *

  • emphasis added by Braindoggy

Then, paragraph (5) says a bunch of stuff about what is required before the agency may re-insert deleted info back into the report.

So, what have we learned? The credit reporting agency has the choice to mark an item as disputed while it is under investigation, or to delete the item and then decided later if it meets the requirements for re-insertion.

I can assure you, contrary to Mr. Ferns’ assertion, that I have disputed an item on my credit report in the past, and it was not removed during the investigation, but after.

Note to self: No more debunking without explicity including reputable cites.

And so, Mr. Ferns, I pass along this advice:

1.) Do your homework

2.) Stop trying to get gullable people into trouble.

3.) Pay your bills.

The general idea of the article, that credit companies really don’t have as much power as they try to convince their customers, is true. However, he really went too far. While credit companies rarely actually resort to legal action, it is an option. For them to exercise it, they have to

  1. serve you
  2. take you to court
  3. win a judgement
  4. find a way to collect the judgement

that’s really not very easy, so they try to intimidate their customers into paying up.

Also, his implication that one can simply wave a magic wand and make bad credit go away is incredibly naive. Following his advice will seriously damage your credit, and not just for unsecured debts.

Finally, I disagree with his last statement “If we all use the credit lines made available by the big loan sharks and don’t pay them back, we would destroy the credit card industry, and THAT would be a good thing.” Credit is an incredibly important part of our economy, and has made us much more efficient. It can easily be abused, but it is the responsibility of the customers to understand what they’re getting into, and it isn’t the fault of the credit card companies if they don’t. If you want to not ever take advantage of the opportunities of our credit economy, and don’t have a moral problem with what is essentially theft, then it makes sense to take his advice.

I have no desire to defend Mr. Ferns, but I do have to take issue with tbea925’s statement:

> "The SSN number being compromised is bunk, too. Cecil
> started to cover this here:
> http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a1_154.html "

The referenced article says no such thing. Identity theft, a range of crimes involving posing as someone else, is a real problem and is made vastly simpler by obtaining the victem’s SSN.

A couple of years ago, Consumer Reports magazine ran a virtual step-by-step procedure for obtaining goods and services on someone else’s dime, given their SSN. Similar reports have appeared repeatedly on TV “news magazines”, and are reported regularly (and more authoritatively!) in comp.risks

You can also find discussions of this problem at the Public Interest Research Groups http://www.pirg.org/consumer/, congressional testimony from the Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility http://www.cpsr.org/cpsr/privacy/ssn/senate_ssn_testimony_1992.txt, and the Privacy Rights ClearingHouse http://www.privacyrights.org/ .

Since my f#*king computer will not give me acess to this site, here’s what I know from personal experence.
After a nasty divorce my sterling credit turn to poopoo (her fault). I found a book at the library called “Credit- The Cutting Edge” by Scott French (available from Paladin Press). I bet he got most of his info there. As far as contesting goes, I did that and they stayed on my credit WHILE it was being investigated. Some dropped, some didn’t. Mr. French suggest doing this around the holidays as most stores are too busy at this time to respond in 30 days.
This is really a thinnly veiled how-to-rip-off-the-credit-companys book, none the less, I now have good credit again!

As the author of “Beat the Bill Collector,” also from Paladin Press, and a former professional debt collector, I can say that Mr. Fern is largely full of beans. While it’s true that professional deadbeats often evade thousands of dollars worth of debt, their lifestyle is not to be envied. To be truly safe from court action, they need to be self-employed, unemployed, or on some government program. They can’t own a house (as a lien could be placed against it), can’t accumulate any money in a bank account (lest the sheriff come down with a court order and drain the account), and, typically, NEVER get good (or any) credit again. Add to this the fact that you’ve got to change your phone # every few months and that your neighbors and relatives are constantly fending off skiptracing calls. Not exactly life in paradise.
Credit can be fixed (if you’re more informed than the average deadbeat), and as warmgun points out, Mr. French’s book shows how to do it. (So does mine, but I’m trying to toot my own horn as little as possible here). Mr. Fern’s instructions, though, are flawed. One could start up a “new identity” with an SS# stolen from someone else (easy if you work in a bank, insurance office, or similar record-keeping establishment–right now I’ve got 100s of SS#s from people’s gun-transfer logs. After the new SS#, you then need to change your name, address, or both, as credit bureau records cross-reference 2 out of 3 variables. A new file is opened for you, and you can start building credit by taking one of those “No credit, no problem” type car loans.
My favorite plan, though, was by an elderly Chinese friend of mine. After being in the country for 40 years and building up good credit, he claimed to have $1,000,000 in blank credit cards (that is, a million-dollar line of credit) sitting in his safe deposit box. “Maybe,” he said, “someday I charge them up and go back to Taiwan.”

After spending more time on this guy’s website, it looks like he’s somewhat to the right of Jesse Helms, politically. This strikes me as odd, because usually people who don’t pay their bills vote Democrat. I see also that he owns his own business and has employees. I don’t know that I’d want to hire a contractor who publically brags about deadbeating people…

**
Cite?
**

FYI the link is http://www.ferns.org/mar1-01.htm .

You mean like all those crooks who benefited from the S&L scandal?

To clarify my earlier statement: As a current pawnbroker and former debt collector, it is my experience that most people who deadbeat others on small (under $50k) amounts of money are usually the recipients of welfare or some other state or federal programs. From this I deduce that they tend to be Democrats (at least when they’re aware of politics at all), because Democrats give more money to social programs than Republicans do. This should not be construed as meaning that Republicans do not deadbeat people–they do, but it seems like they do it for a lot more money.

Because I just can’t get enough…

"Went to your site again. I find it interesting that because I say that a thing is possible, it is assumed that I do it. I know that I have the one comment on my site about letting bill collectors call me so that I can tell them no and laugh at them. I guess ( Just for your friends) I will have to explain the comment. I have twins daughters, 14 years old, soon to be 15. When they were born, they were VERY sick. The medical bills for the two of them topped $750,000.00 in 1986. At the time, I was doing what I could to keep up with some of the bills that HAD to be paid to keep them alive. Because of this, I was UNABLE to pay my credit cards for a time. Most were understanding of my situation, while others (the MAIN culprit being SEARS) were not so nice. I decided that because of the callous and thoughtless handling of my situation, I would NEVER pay the bad ones.

I sat back and waited to reap the whirlwind for my actions. I waited a long time, and finally received closure on the subject. Every one of the companies, whether I had settled with them or not sent me credit cards again, about 7 years later.

As far as the guy who gets his information form Cornell Law school, or wherever it was, my information comes form the School of Hard Knocks, and MY degree beats yours ANYDAY!!!

CYA
Jon M. Ferns"

seth and Mr. Ferns, I am honestly thrilled that an author is in this forum defending the ideas in his book.

But honestly, I’d be so much more thrilled if he (you) signed up and posted himself (yourself).

There’s no real rule being broken here, I don’t think. But I’m just vaguely uncomfortable with this “posting email with permission” thing going on.

Thanks.

Are you sure about that? After reading his rants on his site, I’d have to think that he’d just end up being another JDT or the likes. Unconvincable and disregarding of all evidence put forth. Especially evident with his “school of hard knocks” comment.

According to the agreements for all of my credit cards, they can sue you for any outstanding balance, and you have the right to dispute things, but they do not disappear just because you dispute them. This same information is also available from mastercard.com under the Credit Tips section.