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John Oliver, The Three Major Credit Bureaus

On Sunday’s episode of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight”, host John Oliver focused on the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and Transunion), delivering a scathing report on the ways the bureaus effectively hold us hostage.

As Oliver reported, our credit scores affect more than just our ability to obtain new loans, mortgages or credit cards with competitive terms. Credit scores are also routinely used by landlords making rental decisions, by insurance companies in determining how to charge you for coverage, and as part of pre-employment screenings by many companies, although there doesn’t appear to be a strong correlation between a candidate’s credit score and work ethic or aptitude.

Credit Bureaus Routinely Make Mistakes

The main problem the comedian focused on during Sunday’s expose was that the credit bureaus routinely make mistakes. The bureaus claim that credit reports and scores for 95% of the population are accurate, and tout that percentage as a positive thing. However, as Oliver pointed out, that 5% number of inaccurate reports translates to roughly ten million people, equivalent to the entire population of Sweden!

Credit Reporting Errors

The show featured some of the real people affected by credit reporting errors including a (very much alive) woman who, when she went to apply for a loan, found out the three major bureaus all showed that she was deceased. More reports included information about other people with similar names from different parts of the country. Still others had even more damaging inaccuracies on their reports, such as being mixed up with potential terrorists or sex offenders.

Inaccuracies Affecting Your Credit

Unfortunately, this problem is not a new one in the United States; the show included clips of news reports going back 25 years showing that credit inaccuracies are old news; something we just seem to take for granted. We seem to be conditioned to accept the 95% accuracy rate as/is. To drive his point home, Oliver created three new companies with names and logos that are similar to the “big 3” bureaus, but different enough that they shouldn’t be confused with the credit bureaus. At least 95% of the time, anyway.

If you are concerned about inaccuracies affecting your credit, you owe it to yourself to take action as soon as possible. Build My Scores credit services specialize in cleaning up credit scores, changing consumers’ lives for the better.