Could something you reveal today radically change your life without you realizing it? The answer is a resounding yes – and I hope you will take the time to understand how and why. Information you share online or off is being used to control your future. How can that be? Here are some examples of what can happen:
- Make you, your family, or business uninsurable
- Affect your ability to stay employed
- Dramatically increase your debt by changing your interest rates
- Make you the target of Identity Theft
- Expose your innermost secrets; perhaps even subject you to threats of blackmail
- Even prevent you from renting a place to live
What could possibly do that? I know some will be tempted to play ostrich and put their heads in the sand at this point. I pray for your sake that you keep reading. The same computer technology that allows a search engine to find what you seek online can allow all the data about you to be gathered together and used for purposes far different than what you thought you were doing.
Someone has only to tell the Data Mining program what they want to know and give it access to as many databases as possible and off it goes collecting all there is to know about you. The more databases it can access, the more information it can return. This has been going on for decades in a limited way. The consolidation of all these databases has massively increased the possibility that your future will be impacted.
Most consumers now realize they have a credit file. There are actually three credit databases and any person who has an account with them can run a credit report on you. Others you do business with routinely run credit reports on you. Technically they are supposed to get your permission first.
Many now know about FICO scores and that what is in your credit report greatly affects what it costs to buy anything (car, house, products and services) on credit. What some do not realize yet is that credit reports do not only affect your purchases. They can also affect whether you get hired.
Many employers pull credit reports as part of their screening process. Some check the credit of employees being considered for promotion. Rental management agencies routinely screen credit reports of those applying to rent property. More and more property is being accumulated by companies with policies of refusing to rent to those with less than stellar credit or those who have a negative banking history.
Errors in your credit report can have dire financial consequences. CBS News reported that an astounding 4 out of 5 credit reports contain errors! That is 80%! Unfortunately, most databases DO contain massive numbers of errors.
There are several big reasons for these errors. Do you realize how many other people have the same name as you do? People often use different forms of their name: full name, middle initial, first name only.There are 50,372 people known to be named John Smith.
There is even a Web site now that tells you how many people share your name. The more common your name the more likely some of their activities ended up on your credit report. (This is why the issues of a National ID System and using your Social Security number on everything will not die.)
If 80% of all databases are wrong that means there is an 80% chance they are affecting you already in some way. Once errors appear in these databases they can be a nightmare to correct. Today that might mean no credit, no housing, and no job. If a National ID system is imposed it may prohibit you from buying anything – not even food!
- Even if your credit it perfect now, most Americans are at best only a few paychecks from poverty.
- Even if you have paid every bill on time errors in your files could seriously jeopardize life as you know it.
- One health emergency or injury could cost so much it would ruin your credit – even if you have insurance – if they don’t pay promptly or you can’t cover the co-pays.
Credit reporting was original kept secret. Today, most people are not only aware that credit reports affect what they pay, they also know they have credit scores. Consumer pressure finally led to a way to get free credit reports online. These could easily contain at least the FISA credit score – but don’t.
How long has this been an issue? Credit Report Horror stories about the difficulty of correcting errors have been online since before 1991 and How to Fix Your Credit Report is still a leading topic in 2008. It is now common knowledge that errors in your credit report and Identity Theft can reek havoc in our lives.
This is but the tip of the iceberg and we are living aboard the Titanic. If you want to know what is hidden under the water and survive the trip watch for the next installment of this series:
What You Don’t Know About Privacy Issues Is ALREADY Hurting You![coming very soon].
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