More of Your Privacy For Sale...

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May 19, 2008 - Experian has just announced a new service. It's called Account Monitoring Service and it allows businesses to monitor your credit report with much greater ease. Experian's description of the service says that it is a "comprehensive business credit monitoring system that provides relevant and actionable alerts, enabling clients to minimize risk and maximize customer relationships." In other words, it enables them to sell your personal information faster than ever before.

Experian's Account Monitoring Service (AMS) is setup to provide businesses with quick access to any information contained in your credit report that they think is important. A business using the service could setup an alert to notify them as soon as you are reported delinquent on a bill, or if your credit use ratio increases; both items that can have a severe impact on the interest rates you pay on credit cards.

AMS actually monitors a number of areas. These include changes in your credit score, changes in your payment habits, public record filings, collection filings, changes in payment ratios, delinquencies and the number of inquiries made against your credit file. They specifically state that under public record filings, they include bankruptcies and liens. But presumably, they also contain other filings that might affect your credit; such as divorce.

The release of AMS is not good for consumers. For instance, something as simple as making lower payments on your credit cards - even though you pay more than the minimum - could trigger an alert. This could lead to creditors reducing your credit limit. In the case of credit cards with universal default clauses in their customer agreements, it could mean that the interest rate you pay on one credit card soars overnight simply because you paid a utility bill late.

If you have good credit, and are not overextended, the news is no better. AMS could be setup to tell merchants that you are spending and paying more than usual. This could lead to an increase in junk mail and other types of marketing targeting you. The goal is obviously to get you to spend more.

Admittedly, in this tough economy, many businesses will tempted to subscribe to such a service. It may give them a competitive edge. Unfortunately, it doesn't appear that there is anything that you can do as a consumer to stop the service. Even if you were to freeze your credit file, existing creditors would still be allowed to check your credit.

By: Jim Malmberg


Also see an earlier blog on this site about Experian's plan to track net users activity: Experian to Track Net Users Activity

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