by Mike Masnick

Credit System Needs To Be Cleaned Up To Prevent Identity Theft

from the not-a-good-system dept

Monday's big bust of the identity theft gang that stole thousands of people's identity and millions of their dollars has brought up a lot of issues. Despite the thousands of reports telling people what to do to avoid having their identity stolen, this scam wouldn't have been stopped by any of those methods, suggesting there are bigger problems. In fact, plenty of people are suggesting that the problem is only likely to get much worse, which is leading some to come up with some suggestions on how to prevent this type of identity theft in the future. It seems that the real problem is how the various credit bureaus are set up - and how they make it easy for companies to get your credit report, but difficult for you to view your own credit report, or to alert you when changes have been made to it. If the credit bureaus were forced to send you an email alert telling you when changes had been made, or to let you log in to your account (like any online bank system), a lot of this would have been prevented - as people would have caught the thefts much more quickly.

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread

  • identicon
    LittleW0lf, 27 Nov 2002 @ 10:16pm

    Why should the credit agencies change?

    The credit agencies were set up for the sole purpose of dealing with criminals, not customers. They could care less for you and I, we don't pay their bills or make it worthwhile for them, even at $80 a year for their email alert system. It is the criminals that make their money for them, if the criminals didn't exist, neither would they.

    I've seen several people's lives overturned by identity theft, even if it wasn't direct. Someone stole my younger brother's social security number, he didn't even have to steal my younger brother's name. When my brother (who hasn't opened a credit line before) bought a car, the car dealership wouldn't sell him a car because his social security number had been used before by someone else.

    Not checking with the social security administration to make sure the number was valid, the various credit agencies took the other guy's word for it and recorded the social security number as his. My brother was forced to file for identity theft, thereby prohibiting both himself and the usurper of his SSN from being able to apply for credit.

    Even worse, the police have done absolutely nothing, and the social security administration has informed my brother that there is nothing they can do about it either. And imagine how many places want your social security number: Vons, Safeway, Walmart, Target, etc...

    The whole system has to change, not just the credit agencies, but the financial and government agencies have to change too before identity theft will be reduced...not doing so will only cause identity theft to increase.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Jay, 29 Nov 2002 @ 12:03pm

      Re: Why should the credit agencies change?

      My old roommate was in a similar situation. This shady guy that he used to hang around with stole his wallet, took his social security card across the PA/NJ state line and got a Drivers License in NJ, which he then used to open up a checking account and get 6 credit cards in Pennsylvania. He wrote over $8000 in bad checks and maxed out all the credit cards, and my friend actually spent a month in jail and had to travel over 100 miles to and from court to get it all sorted out. His credit history is ruined, and he's lucky to have a checking account, although its highly unlikely he'll ever get a credit card in the next 10 years.

      My roommate knows who did it, and the really sad thing about this is that the police have done nothing to prosecute the person responsible, even though a simple handwriting analysis would provide sufficient grounds for investigation into the matter.

      Like you said, the credit bureaus, and even the police don't give a damn about your credit standing if you aren't a criminal. If you're a victim, you're screwed.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Dr_Stein, 29 Nov 2002 @ 2:42pm

    They need change. Yes.

    Credit companies need change. Leaving negative marks on for 7 years is excessive, especially when many companies do not report positive marks, only the negative ones. 3 years (if the account is paid off) is more than enough.
    Credit information (IMHO) should be reported to all 3 agencies. I was recently rejected for a car loan because of "insufficient positive credit history" - well, when companies report only the negative, what do they expect? Experian was the only agency that has my 5 years of car payment history on file. Not one late payment. Why don't Equifax and TRW have this information? With something as important as credit reports, the information should be accurate. Inaccurate information should be easier to remove.

    It's all annoying...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Show Now: Takedown
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads


Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.