Clearing up the confusion over your credit history

Wednesday, July 31st 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

There is an e-mail making the rounds again promising to stop the release of your credit information. The e-mail is mostly bogus, except some of its contents might be helpful.

Sounds confusing, but News on Six reporter Rick Wells explains. I got an e-mail from a trusted family member. Who got it from someone else, that's how these things spread so fast. The e-mail warns that a new law requires credit bureaus to release our credit information to anyone who wants it. It goes on to say we have to "opt out" of this release by calling a toll free number. It sounded fishy so I contacted Margo Mitchell at the Credit Counseling Service; she says she's always suspicious of e-mails. "We're all concerned about giving out social security numbers names and addresses, that sort of thing."

That's the kind of healthy skepticism we all should have. She put me in touch with the local representative of Equifax one of the major credit reporting companies. He told me the e-mail is mostly bogus, but partly true. Here's the bogus part. Credit bureau's are prohibited by law from passing our credit info to just anyone who asks for it, and there is no new law effective July 1st, that changes that.

The toll free number is legitimate, it's been around since 1997. It will remove you from future mailing lists, for some of those "pre-approved" credit offers. Equifax also told me the credit bureau national association has been dealing with this bogus e-mail for a couple of years, this one's just a new version, making the rounds.

If you get the e-mail, and want to "opt out" of some mailing lists use the toll free number. It's legit; the e-mail that provided it to you is all baloney.

The credit reporting industry is warning consumers about false e-mail claims. To find out more, visit CONSUMER DATA INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION web site. Or you can call the Credit Industry pre-screening opt-out number at 888-567-8688.

Consumers who want to opt-out of receiving unwanted commercial solicitations via e-mail can visit the DIRECT MARKETING ASSOCIATION web site. [although registration with the DMA’s preference services will help to reduce the amount of solicitations that consumers receive, it will not stop all unsolicited offers]