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Equifax is one of three major credit agencies in this country, and it collects all sorts of information on every American’s income, debt, and bill payment history. You probably already know that Equifax uses this information to calculate your credit score, and is responsible for reporting your score to potential lenders, but what you probably don’t know is that the company has been selling your salary data to creditors.
The Equifax credit reporting agency, NBC News reports, has collected 190 million employment and salary records on about one-third of U.S. adults and has sold some of the information “to debt collectors, financial service companies and other entities.”
Robert Mather, who runs a small employment background company named Pre-Employ.com, tells the network that “it’s the biggest privacy breach in our time, and it’s legal and no one knows it’s going on. … It’s like a secret CIA.”
This is what happens when credit bureaus are private companies instead of non-profits or government run entities. With private corporations, there is always an incentive to make money, and companies have a duty to their shareholders, not their customers.
What makes the Equifax case even more outrageous is that Americans must manage their credit in order to have access to capital in this country. Meaning that credit isn’t a commodity in the same sense that Nikes or flat screen televisions are commodities. We need credit reports. They’re required in order for us to manage our lives effectively. We don’t need a flat screen television. So in that sense, it is particularly egregious that Americans are being forced to do business with a private credit bureau, which then turns around and harvests people’s private information for profit.