Data Compilers' Secret Scores Have Consumers Pegged, Fairly or Not

April 8, 2014
Los Angeles Times 

Although it has been more than a decade since consumers won access to their credit scores in response to advocates' concerns about errors and lending bias, consumers still remain in the dark about the secret scores and data used by employers, utilities, banks, healthcare providers, debt collectors, and others. As a result, advocates say it remains impossible for consumers to correct factual errors, and they contend that consumer protections extended to credit reports should be broadened to include all consumer scores.

Pam Dixon, director of the San Diego nonprofit World Privacy Forum, is calling on Congress and federal regulators to lift the veil on secret scores, such as scores used to predict the likelihood that households will pay debt, job security scores that predict future income and capacity to pay, and churn scores that aim to predict when customers will move their business to another bank or service provider.

While more than 40 data collection companies that provide consumers with their personal information and allow them to fix errors are listed on a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau website, critics say there are loopholes, and companies should allow regulators and consumers to see the data to determine whether scores are being used improperly.

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