That will seem like elementary school, compared to the new tie-up between two financial-data providers. Be afraid, be VERY afraid. You voluntarily sign up for a Facebook account, and you make a conscious decision to use Google products, like internet search, Gmail, and YouTube. You can decline to use Facebook, and there are alternate search engines (I only use DuckDuckGo now).
But you, as a consumer, have NO say in how your bank, credit union, or credit card companies report your intimate financial data to the Big Three Credit Bureaus. In fact, I’d hazard a guess that most Americans don’t even know that there are three, or what their names are. I’d also hazard a guess that most people paid very little attention to the huge data-breach at one of those credit bureaus a couple of years ago. Unbeknownst to most of the victims whose financial data were stolen, Equifax mostly notified big financial institutions, and did not suffer much reputational damage. I read the Wall Street Journal religiously, so I was able to follow the story closely. I’ll bet you didn’t.
Every time you apply for any kind of credit, from a department store, to an oil company or credit card company; to a bank for a mortgage or auto loan; those companies pull your “credit report” from one or all three of the big credit bureaus (Equifax, TransUnion, or Experian). And do they ask you if you want them to pull your report? Or do they tell you that your information is provided to the bureaus, and retrieved from them, without your knowledge or consent? Of course they don’t.
Those three companies are the biggest repositories of data about you, that you have never heard of, and probably don’t pay much attention to. Well, just recently, two companies, Equifax and Fair-Isaac (the company that invented the FICO score, which determines credit-worthiness), have teamed up to SELL CONSUMER DATA TO BANKS. Yes, that is you that they are selling to banks. And did they bother to ask you if you wanted them to sell you? Nope.
Because you are not their customer. You aren’t even the end user. You are just the product. Now, do you have any information about the security of all this data they are selling about you? Are you aware of any protections they offer, for your valuable financial data? Nope, because they don’t offer any. In this age of constant exposure of you, your family, your friends, and your accounts on social media, most people don’t give any thought to the potential repercussions from cyber-thieves getting ahold of all this information about you. After the big Equifax breach in 2017, the company offered free “credit-watch” services for awhile, but didn’t contact everyone whose data were stolen, and the worst effect they suffered was their CEO finally resigned, months later. Personally, I am alarmed at the offhanded way these companies play fast and loose with your data, and make lots of money off of selling you to all their real customers. Why should I have to go through all the conniptions to freeze my credit files, and all the effort to correct errors in a file I had NO say in at all?
So it might behoove you to get more informed about who has your data, and why. Ask who determines your fitness to be granted credit, and how. Ask what data your bank reports to the credit bureaus, and if you can see it. Pull your own credit score from EACH of the big three at least once a year, and make them correct any errors you find. Just keep your eyes open, and take care with your credit, because no one else will.