Sunday, November 01, 2015

Experian, T-Mobile and the FCC | Is Anyone Watching?

I received an apology letter from Experian a couple days ago. For those of you that don't know, Experian is a credit reporting service. If you've ever had credit, they have your information. They have your full name, address, social security number and full credit history. Everything that's needed for a company to decide if they want to do business with you.

Here is a portion of their letter:

"On September 21, 2015, we notified T-Mobile USA, Inc. that information Experian maintains on their behalf to perform credit checks had been downloaded by the unauthorized party. Information you provided when you applied for an account at T-Mobile likely was acquired. That information includes your name, address, social security number, date of birth, identification number (such as driver's license, military ID, or passport number) and additional information used in T-Mobile's own credit assessment. No payment card or banking information was obtained. This did not involve access to Experian's credit reporting database."

After they "sincerely apologized" for what happened they wrote this:

"To help protect your identity, we are offering a complimentary two-year membership in ProtectMyId Elite credit monitoring and identity theft resolution services."

Did you notice how the word "complimentary" was in bold? I suppose that was because they thought whoever they were sending this letter out to was of lower intellect. That they are going to think ...

Wow! I didn't even know that happened but look at how great those Experian people are! They are going to take care of this for me! I'm so lucky it happened with them!
First off ... where is my apology letter from T-Mobile? They didn't bother sending out one. Why? Because they wanted to make sure we properly understood that we are nothing more to them than, well ... not much of anything.

Their CEO did write a letter. You have to search the Internet to find it on their web site. If you want to read it, it's at this link:

What "What's His Name", the CEO of T-Mobile wrote for an apology letter
"What's His Name" writes this:

"Obviously I am incredibly angry about this data breach and we will institute a thorough review of our relationship with Experian, but right now my top concern and first focus is assisting any and all consumers affected. I take our customer and prospective customer privacy VERY seriously. This is no small issue for us. I do want to assure our customers that neither T-Mobile’s systems nor network were part of this intrusion and this did not involve any payment card numbers or bank account information."
Obviously "What's His Name" is really angry and right on this. Also note that "What's His Name" took the time to distance himself from the incident. Why did I call the CEO "What's His Name" in the link? Because the genius didn't even bother to put it in the letter or at the bottom of his letter.

He did include his "signature"! As if we're supposed to believe that whole thing was so important to him that he took the time to sit down at a computer, write this letter and proofread it? Then the actual letter was printed, he signed it and the signature was scanned in and place on that posting on the site?

My guess is the closest he ever came to that letter was in the meeting with T-Mobile insiders when he looked at the  IT and Marking representative and said "Fix this, but make sure it doesn't cost us anything". That's why we didn't even get a form letter from them. That would cost money. They can't just be throwing that stuff around. They have salaries to protect and you do that by making big profits so the board and shareholders are happy.

I should have heard about this from T-Mobile first. The fact that I didn't tells me all I need to know about the company. In truth, I don't have an account with them and never will. I was just exploring my options but had to give them my credit information so they could determine if I was "worthy enough" to deal with them.

Looks like it should have been the other way around.

Then there is Experian. They are a CREDIT REPORTING SERVICE! It's already a part of their RESPONSIBILITY to protect my credit. They are one of the 3 out there, the other two being TransUnion and Equifax. I'm pretty sure they're number 3 and if they aren't, they ought to be.

I was in banking for nearly 10 years and it was always my understanding that a credit reporting agency's mission was to deliver an accurate report of a person's credit history and nothing more. What are they doing providing a service beyond that?

They should have the look of not being able to be influenced by ANYONE. That when you get a report from Experian you will be seeing an accurate and unfiltered report of the person or business you've inquired about. That there is no benefit for them to change the report in any way. Doing ANYTHING other than credit reporting makes them beholden to someone else for their income. How are we to know that as a part of their relationship with T-Mobile that there wasn't a "wink and a nod" that when a credit report was requested by Verizon that whenever they happened to ask about a T-Mobile customer that something would be altered in T-Mobile's favor? I'm not saying it happened, but I am saying the look of impropriety is there.

Then to add insult to this incident, what do they do? They offer two years of their credit protection service and an apology. Just 2 years? It should be forever! After all, they are supposed to be the guardian of my credit. If they've done something to jeopardize permanently (and make no mistake, not that my personal information is out there; it is) they should have to protect me FOREVER!

What they've done is the equivalent of if the US Government told our soldiers injured in battle, "We'll be able to take care of you for 2 years. After that, you're on your own". Instead they've take the attitude of a crack dealer. We'll hook you on the service, once you've become dependent you can pay. It's genius!

T-Mobile moves on with a lower Equifax cost because this happened and Equifax has gets some new customers for their credit reporting service. Everyone makes money except the consumer.  Sounds about right, doesn't it?

And where was the FCC in all this? They are the government agency that was put in place to PROTECT us. They should have been putting the screws to both of these companies, forcing them to do the right thing. The right thing in this instance would be to protect the affected person/businesses credit until the end of time. Why they didn't, I have no understanding.

So as it ends up everyone that has responsibility for this issue feels like they've done everything reasonable and practical. They're sleeping just fine every night.

Me? I'm not so sure ...

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