We’ve all heard of credit reporting agencies. Transunion, Experian, and Equifax are the most commonly known. MyFico.com describes them as companies that “compete to capture, update and store credit histories on most U.S. consumers.” Most people know these credit reporting agencies as the creators of your credit score, something that is helpful in obtaining the best rate possible on a home loan. This score is based on your credit history and aids in obtaining new debt.
They have a lot more information than just your credit history.
One of Experian’s Frequently Asked Questions reads:
“Where does Experian Marketing Services’ consumer marketing data come from?
Consumer data is collected from a variety of public record sources, self-reported information, information from the United States Census, the phone book and from commercial entities that provide consumers the right to opt-out before sharing information with Experian Marketing Services and other third parties.”
What do they do with this information about you? Sell it, and make a lot of money. According to The Telegraph, Experian made $4.5 billion (yes, that is a “b”) in NET revenue in 2017, and Equifax made $3.1 billion in 2016.
Who can buy your data? Any business–seriously. This webpage from Experian is dedicated to attracting businesses with your data. They sell information about you so businesses can market to you as a prospect, hopefully making you a customer.
What should you do about it?
- Don’t freak out.
Certain “sensitive” data points about you are not for sale. There are many governing regulatory authorities that keep all three of these companies accountable to ensure identity and money cannot be stolen from you based on the information sold. It is important to note that the information sold is used for marketing purposes by businesses. It is not used by criminals to steal from you. Furthermore, the gathering and sale of this data does not impact your credit score. But, as mentioned before, your credit score cannot get you to heaven, so fretting about it isn’t a good practice anyway.
- Opt out if you want.
Each of the credit bureaus do allow you to opt out from having certain information collected/sold about you. Click here to opt out from Experian.
- Set your expectations and prepare.
Now that you’ve read this post, you know countless businesses have information about you. That means you will receive marketing by mail, phone, web browser, social media, and even door-to-door that is targeted to you. Be on guard. Don’t fall prey to each solicitation that comes your way. Only make purchases that are preplanned and within your budget.
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