Friday, December 15, 2006

Did You Know There is a 4th Credit Bureau?

I'm not kidding. Apparently, this bureau (technically they are agencies and shouldn't be called bureaus) is more secretive than the CIA. It's called Innovis and they compile your credit reports right along with Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. Only, Innovis doesn't have to comply with the FCRA laws in the same way the other "big 3" credit agencies do.

Recently, I have been going to great lengths trying to get a few negative items removed from my credit report. When I say great lengths, I mean great lengths, too. Getting something removed from your credit file is no easy task. It requires a lot of waiting and everything to be done in writing (for the most part).

For example, years ago I moved out of a house with 2 roommates and the Comcast cable bill was never switched out of my name - despite my seemingly successful attempt to do so. The result was a $300 bill that went unnoticed (and wasn't forwarded to my new address), that eventually made it's way into collections and onto my credit report. Only recently did I even discover it was there. So, I have been calling each of the 3 credit reporting agencies to get information on the item so that I can start the dispute process. That means I have to send a letter to all three agencies, wait for them to respond and then send them any supporting evidence I may have. Then they contact the creditor to verify the information. As per the FCRA, the creditor has 30 days in which to verify the credit item or by law, it must be removed from my credit file.

Lucky for me, all 3 credit agencies deleted the Comcast file from my report. However, during my extensive web searches about how the process works, I slowly became aware of another presence. Kind of like the way Neo knew something wasn't right about the world in The Matrix by discerning subtle clues, I was able to assume the presence of another, 4th credit reporting agency. The signs were there, but no one talked about it. It seemed that out of every 100 references I read where only 3 agencies were named, one reference would mention a 4th. Then, this article finally put a name to that 4th agency, Innovis.

Apparently, Innovis maintains your credit file in much the same way as the "Big 3," agencies. Only, Innovis doesn't provide your report to credit card companies or lending institutions for the purpose of approving your credit worthiness. They have a more sinister function. Innovis acts as a sort of final clearinghouse for consumer credit information. They deal in bulk. For example, credit card companies routinely send out "pre-approval" notices and other credit-related product offers. Innovis acts as their mass mailing failsafe. In fact, Innovis has a product called FailSafe that can weed out "undesirables" that credit card companies would have otherwise pre-approved for credit worthiness.

So, even though credit card companies don't use Innovis when you apply for a card, Innovis can still be the deciding factor when it comes to the way you receive offers of credit. Therefore, it's just as important to know what is on your Innovis report as it is for the other Big 3. But since Innovis isn't one of the primary sources for credit reporting, it is somewhat exempt from FCRA statutes. This means you have to dig a little deeper into the rabbit hole to see how far it goes.

If any of you are interested in contacting Innovis to get a copy of your report from them, here is their contact information:

Innovis Consumer Assistance
P.O. Box 1358
Columbus, OH 43216-1358
1-800-540-2505

3 comments:

sweetpancakes said...

This is a nice blog, thanks! It may sound silly that you have to watch your credit report, but you would be amazed at the number of people who actually have errors on their credit report and they are completely unaware of it.
In Making Your Credit Report Work For You, there are a couple of things that you can do.Hope you'll find it and your many readers very useful.
Have a super day!

ALEISH said...

Great post!

Just want to share this article, What You Need To Know About Credit Reporting Agencies .

Hope this resource be useful to your blog and your readers.

Anonymous said...

http://blogs.cfed.org/cgi-sys/cgiwrap/cfed/managed-mt/mt-tb.cgi/3512
If you go to this link you will discover there are very many "4th credit agencies" collecting and reporting/ortherwise using our data!