So let me tell you a story about secret credit bureaus that you don’t know about. Most of us have some knowledge about the three major credit bureaus that hold our credit report and credit score. The three biggies are Equifax, Experian and Transunion. But there are more places that hold information about you. Have you ever heard about Innovis?
Innovis is just one example of a credit reporting agency that soars under the radar but can significantly impact your life. There are others so let’s talk about them. And by the way, if you read this posting once and then it’s gone, you’ll know I was contacted by lawyers to remove it.
So let’s start with Innovis. Innovis Data Solutions really hit behind the scenes around 2001 when Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, the mortgage financing folks, began requiring their partners to report mortgage performance to Innovis. That started the ball rolling.
It doesn’t matter so much what Innovis does but that there is a fourth credit bureau out there that holds information about you and doesn’t like to appear on the radar.
Innovis specializes in providing information to businesses. They reported maintain a list of who moves; where and when, and a list that creditors use to pre-screen credit offers. Show up as a bad egg on that list and you might not get access to the best credit card offers available today. (Which you can find online here.)
ChexSystems is one of those data repositories that we see the sign for from time to time but we never know how it impacts our life. Let me give you a personal example.
The Chex Systems, Inc network is comprised of member Financial Institutions that regularly contribute information on mishandled checking and savings accounts to a central location. ChexSystemsSM shares this information among member institutions to help them assess the risk of opening new accounts. ChexSystemsSM only shares information with the member institutions and does not decide on new account openings.
If you’ve been a bad boy and bounced a check then that information will go into a database and be used against you when you try to open an account at a new bank. Seems to make sense? But incorrect information in ChexSystems can also block you from opening a bank account.
You can get a copy of your ChexSystems file on you and you can request it by visiting ConsumerDebit.com. You can order one report for free each year.
- National Consumer Telecom & Utilities Exchange
It is just like a regular credit reporting company but for telecommunications and utilities and in this case the data is managed and housed by Equifax.
- LexisNexis Banko
The Banko service from LexisNexis provides daily reporting on bankruptcy cases, deceased people, eviction information and judgment and tax lien information.
If you are involved in debt collection, fraud prevention or new account authorizations, a convenient solution has been designed to accurately track this information. BankoÂ® offers bankruptcy and deceased databases, which can be used to keep your portfolio of accounts complete and up-to-date.
Banko’s national bankruptcy database contains complete information on all bankruptcy filings, discharges, dismissals and conversions in the United States. Banko gathers complete bankruptcy information from all Federal Bankruptcy Districts on a daily basis. This information is then imported into one, easy-to-use bankruptcy database, saving you time and bankruptcy court on-line fees.
The Banko database has up-to-date information on all bankruptcy filings, discharges, dismissals and conversions nationwide. Each bankruptcy filed is tracked on a case-by-case basis in order to collect all filings, 341 dates, discharges, dismissals and conversions. Bankruptcy information is collected from all 50 states, plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The Bank service is important to be aware of if you find public record or court information on your credit report that you don’t recognize. The erroneous information could have originated through this court reporting service.
ChoicePoint maintains and provides information to “advance the efforts of law enforcement, public safety, healthcare, child support enforcement, entitlement and other public agencies.” That’s always a comforting statement.
ChoicePoint provides data reporting in the following industries:
Automobiles – Screen out high risk customers and identify the person who is buying a car to avoid violation of the USA PATRIOT Act or OFAC (Office of Foreign Assets Control) regulations. By the way, if you want to read the names or groups or individuals that should not be allowed in the United States, click here.
Banking – Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) compliance. A number of banks have been caught in money laundering, BSA or non-compliance issues that lead to massive fines. These banks include Union bank of California, American Express, Bank of America, Beach Bank, Foster Bank, Israel Discount Bank, Western Union, Liberty Bank of New York, BankAtlantic, Oppenheimer, ABN AMRO Bank, Bank of New York, Arab Bank, Gulf Bank, JPMorgan Chase, Riggs Bank, AmSouth, and more. Read details here.
Commercial Banking – Electronic fingerprint transmission, professional license verification, identity authentication, courthouse searches, mortgage fraud search.
Corporate Security – Identity verification, PFAS, BSA, USA Patriot Act screening, watch list screening (24 lists and growing), media searches.
Gaming and Casinos – Identity services, money laundering avoidance.
Healthcare – Employment screening and identity protection services.
Insurance – Auto liability reporting, claims history, driver history, insurance scoring services.
Legal – Courthouse research, litigation support, employment screening
Mortgage – Fraud prevention, mortgage industry data exchange (MARI) through MIDEX a service that contains public disciplinary actions and sanctions data, mortgage fraud alert system (MFAS),
Multifamily – Resident screening and collection services for property owners including notifying property owners of new convictions of residents and identification of sex offenders.
Nonprofit – Watch for infiltration by identity theft, terrorism and money laundering, volunteer screening.
Retail – Drug testing, employment screening, vendor screening.
Retail Banking – DEBTOR Discovery, a tool used to find people and assets, find private telephone numbers, relatives and business associates of delinquent account holders.
- MIB – Insurance Repository
MIB Group, once known as the Medical information Bureau, is a network of about 470 insurance companies in the US and Canada that share information about policyholders and applicants to prevent someone from leaving out critical information that might impact a new life insurance, health insurance, disability, critical illness or long-term care policy.
You can obtain a copy of your insurance report from MIB by following the instructions on their site here.
Consumers have long had a right to obtain information from MIB about the contents of their MIB “consumer file.” We call this “Disclosure” and we now provide one free report annually for those consumers using the “streamlined” process that was developed in response to FACTA (Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act).
In addition to one free copy of their MIB records annually, consumers also have the right to question the accuracy of the information in their MIB files and to seek correction of it in accordance with the procedures set forth in FCRA. When a consumer disputes the accuracy of any item in his or her file, we contact our member company that reported information (a “furnisher”) about the consumer and the member company conducts an investigation (sometimes referred to as a “reinvestigation”) to determine whether the disputed information was accurate and complete, as required by FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act). Of course, the goal of the investigation is to help ensure that consumer reports are accurate. Out of all the free Disclosures that we provide, we find that only one percent (1%) of these consumer files are amended as a result of a consumerâ€™s election to dispute its accuracy. We have even fewer cases in which a consumer elects to exercise his or her right to record a “statement of dispute” in his or her consumer file. Once filed, the statement of dispute will be provided to any MIB member that subsequently requests the consumerâ€™s MIB file.
The information contained in the MIB database is highly sensitive because it contains information of underwriting significance (medical and avocation information) about North American consumers who have applied for life and health insurance with MIB member companies.
MIB also offers a really cool service called the Policy Locater Service. For a fee they will search their massive database and see if you are eligible for life insurance benefits that you might know about from someone that died.
When I discovered this service I immediately emailed it to a friend of mine. My best friend died with his unsigned insurance application on his desk and left his wife with nothing. Maybe there was a policy out there we didn’t know about. It’s worth the fee to check.
- First Advantage SafeRent
Yet another place data about you is kept is you have rented a property in an apartment complex.
First Advantage SafeRent is a consumer reporting agency that provides information to the multi-family housing industry and to employers. Housing providers may obtain your consumer report to assist them in making leasing and employment decisions. Employers may obtain your consumer report to assist them in making employment decisions.
SafeRent even produces your renter credit score, called RegistryScorex that is supposed to predict your ability and willingness to pay rent.
Instructions about how to obtain a copy of your SafeRent report can be found online here.
If you’ve written checks you’re probably in the Telecheck database. Telecheck provides merchants with services to help them avoid getting stung with bad checks. However, the service also stings consumers.
Two examples come to mind. The first was someone who had a name similar to another person, the other person. Cindy went to write a check at her local market and it came back denied. TeleCheck had clearly made an error but blocked Cindy from writing checks until she spent time and money to fix the error.
The other person was me. Before CompUSA went out of business I would drop in to buy computer stuff. If I wrote more than two checks in three days it was flagged as suspicious activity and my check would be rejected.
Here is what someone else said about their TeleCheck experience.
“A few weeks ago my wife and I where in Walmart talking with friends. They where in the check out next to us. We gave the clerk our check. He put in the TeleCheck reader and he said your check not good. Our friends heard this and six people in line heard it.
The manager came over and it when down hill from there. We paid with a debit card and left.
Now, we have had accounts with the same bank for 15 years with not a problem of any kind. Our checking account carries a $10,000 balance on a regular bases.
We found that my wife’s drivers license number was tied to some account in a credit union that we never heard of because some in Telecheck hit the wrong numbers on someone who had some bad checks in that CU.
This embarrassment is indescribable. Now we will not use a check in any place that has TeleCheck for fear of the same thing happening again. This causes us a problem because we are to old to be carring large amount of cash with us. Also the friends I told you of are cold to us now.
We have a letter from Teleckeck saying evrything is all right now but not one word of apology.”
More information about TeleCheck contacts can be found here.