Home > Uncategorized > John Oliver Got This Important Fact Right in His Credit Report Rant

Comments 1 Comment

Comedian John Oliver took credit reporting agencies to task on his HBO show, “Last Week Tonight,” on Sunday, saying the agencies should be more accountable for errors in reporting personal credit information for American consumers.

“Credit reports. The basis for the single-most important three-digit number in your whole life, other than, of course, 311, the Beatles of rap-rock,” Oliver joked, kicking off the nearly 19-minute segment.

Credit reports are no laughing matter and can affect not just your ability to get a loan, as Oliver rightly pointed out, but also your ability to get a job and even a place to live. Errors can be a huge headache, particularly when they’re difficult to prove in the first place.

Errors Abound & Aren’t Always Fixed Quickly 

Oliver referenced a 2012 study by the Federal Trade Commission, which found, among other things, that one in five consumers had an error that was corrected by a credit reporting agency after it was disputed on at least one of their three credit reports. The study also found that about 20% of consumers who identified errors on one of their three major credit reports experienced an increase in their credit score that resulted in a decrease in their credit risk tier.

What Oliver didn’t address was a follow-up FTC study of credit report accuracy issued in January 2015, which found most consumers who previously reported an unresolved error on one of their three major credit reports believe at least one piece of disputed information is still inaccurate.

Of the 121 consumers from the 2012 study who had at least one unresolved dispute, 37 (31%) said they accepted the original disputed information on their reports as correct. But 84 of these consumers (nearly 70%) said at least some of the disputed information is inaccurate. Of those 84 consumers, 38 of them (45%) said they plan to continue their dispute and 42 (50%) plan to abandon their dispute. Four consumers were undecided.

“We can all appreciate humor,” Stuart K. Pratt, president and CEO of the Consumer Data Industry Association, said via email. “However, the consumer data industry feels that a serious subject such as this should be dealt with in a transparent way that helps inform consumers. Our members continue to make significant investments in technology and ideas that are consumer-focused. … Credit reports are important financial tools that can help consumers improve their quality of life, and we take their accuracy very seriously.”

How Checking Your Credit Can Help

While Oliver called for the credit bureaus to take more responsibility for the information they report, he also noted that consumers should take it upon themselves to check their credit reports to ensure the information is accurate.

Federal law provides for everyone to get a free copy of their credit report once a year from each of the three major credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. These companies are required under federal law to provide a dispute process that consumers can use to get errors removed from their credit reports. (You can read more about how the dispute process works here.) If you uncover a lot of errors on your credit report or just don’t want to do through the dispute process, some consumers choose to hire a credit repair company to do the work for them.

You can also keep an eye your credit and make sure errors aren’t actively being added by checking your free credit scores, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com. If you see a big drop in your credit score that doesn’t make sense, it may mean it’s time to take a closer look at your credit report.

More on Credit Reports & Credit Scores:

Image: Time Warner

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

  • SM2016999

    That follow up study only further damns you, but no matter what, millions of people are screwed over. This is so shameless. Congrats, other than preaching to the crony choir, you just showed how painfully basic you are. This is such a pathetic attempt to justify your mediocrity. Have some decency and take a page book from better cronies like the banking industry.

Credit.com receives compensation for the financial products and services advertised on this site if our users apply for and sign up for any of them.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team