It is not so naive to think the world is fair and everyone is treated equally – it’s certainly not. There are three major credit-reporting firms-Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, are speedy to correct errors for the rich and famous, while the rest of us peons get our requests shunted and relegated to their automated system that takes months to resolve even the simplest of problems.
Though some credit reporting agencies are denying this list exists, consumer advocates seem to have proof that the best customer service is reserved for those whose credit reports are considered to require more accuracy by the bureaus.
Charging a higher expense for better customer service is a legitimate way of operating, although some might argue that even this method of operation unfairly discriminates against those who can’t afford the service. Despite some objections, offering VIP service to anyone who pays for it is usually justified. But in this case, VIP service is not differentiated by cost.
Credit reporting is something most people cannot opt out of – without major changes to their finances that involve never using debt of any sort, including a mortgage. Credit reports and credit scores are services for businesses researching individuals, not for individuals, so the companies’ first priority is serving their real customers – those who pay for access to other people’s reports VIP Service and scores. The credit reports and scores in the systems are commodities, being purchased by companies evaluating creditworthiness or other factors.
An error on your credit report can mean you are denied or have to pay more for a loan than you might otherwise. In more extreme cases, your record could be confused with a felon’s, resulting in your employment application being denied or sheriff’s deputies showing up on your doorstep with collection notices, and it’s dependent upon you to demonstrate that the incorrect information has to be removed.
None of the agencies would confirm to the New York Times that they kept a VIP list. According to Leonard Bennett a consumer lawyer in Newport News, VA “The legal responsibility of the credit reporting agencies and of the creditors is well established.” He added, “There is a requirement that they do meaningful research and analysis, and it is almost never done.”
This is contrary to Mr. Szwak, who has handled dozens of credit cases, said that the V.I.P. designation and preferential treatment existed at Experian. Experian is the only bureau that still processes disputes in the United States, experts said, though most complaints wind their way through the same online system – unless the dispute involves a V.I.P. “They get a lot more high-end treatment” Mr. Szwak added, the lawyer who has read the bureaus’ internal procedure manuals and removed or cross-examined employees.
The biggest difference at TransUnion and Equifax, lawyers said, is that V.I.P’s. disputes are specially handled domestically. Regular consumers’ files, meanwhile, may get priority treatment on the off chance that they involve a time-sensitive issue, like a mortgage pending, or if the consumer is represented by a lawyer or dealing with fraud. New York Times says they got their information by interviewing consumer lawyers and examining documents.
Sen. Dick Blumenthal wants explanations from the three credit rating bureaus about a New York Times report about a VIP list they allegedly keep that favors the rich and famous over everyone else. “I’m profoundly troubled by the implication that your companies are neglecting the majority of consumers and providing preferential treatment for wealthy, famous or well-connected persons, and I ask you to confirm or deny these reports and give more information on your dispute resolution process,” he wrote in the letter.