|Give 'Em Some Credit|
(4/8/2003) E-mail is a terrible tool for spreading information, but it is very good at propagating paranoid misinformation. That's definitely the case with this warning about your credit privacy.
This letter contains a small bit of useful information, but a heaping helping of ignorant misinformation. First of all, contrary to what this letter would have you believe, credit bureaus are not allowed to release your credit info "to anyone who requests it." The Fair Credit Reporting Act of 1997 requires that businesses requesting information be "legitimate" and have "permissible purpose" to access your report.
Nevertheless, calling 1-888-567-8688 will do nothing to protect your credit privacy under this act, as a recording at the number explains. It will opt you out of credit offers, but offers no protection about the sharing of your credit information with businesses who request it. Instead, the recording recommends you contact every financial institution with which you are doing or have done business (banks, insurance companies, securities firms, credit card companies, etc.) individually to opt out of information sharing. There is no easy, one-call fix to this perceived problem.
Some opportunistic scammers have co-opted this chain letter to do a little financial damage themselves. They have replaced the phone number in some versions with another one that they use to dupe unsuspecting folks into giving them vital information about themselves (including social security number).
This letter first showed its ugly head as July 1, 2001 approached. Because the author decided to cite only July 1, not the year, it returned in March/April, 2002 and again in 2003. Consumer advocates have picked up on it and made some strong efforts to get the truth out and stop the spread of this incomplete and misleading chain letter. Help them out and Break this Chain!
Category: Real, But...