Tag Archive | telling the truth

No Credit for Credit Bureaus

Soap BoxI’ve climbed onto MY SOAP BOX for today’s post, so if you don’t want to read my rant opinion, stop reading right now.

Last night on 60 Minutes (one of my favorite television programs), there was a story about a woman who found an error on her credit report. (It was reported that there are over 40 Million mistakes in credit reporting.) Like a good, responsible person she took great care to keep her credit in good status. Like we are all instructed, she checked her report often. When she found an error, she took action right away and called the bureau to report the mistake. She followed their instructions to get the error corrected, and after several weeks, nothing was done. That’s right, NO ACTION was taken. And as the story goes, this is the norm, not the exception.

Most Americans know credit scores have become the most important number in their lives. It has become a barometer of personal responsibility and character, which is totally ridiculous.

But, nonetheless, this woman in the story pursued her quest to get the error on her report fixed. She  eventually fought for YEARS with no satisfaction. I kid you not–SHE FOUGHT FOR YEARS!  She proved to the credit bureau that another woman with a similar name was responsible for the trouble. The error was indeed an error, and yet, the credit bureau did nothing to rectify it. In fact, when she requested a copy of her report, it was different from what the lending institutions received!

The other part of the story is these matters are not handled  handled by employees in INDIA. Yup, that’s right. People completely on the other side of the world are expected to fix these American boo-boos. And they probably could take care of the problem, IF THEY WERE GIVEN THE AUTHORITY TO DO SO.

See the vortex?  See the fraud?

The credit bureaus have turned out to be real-life “Big Brothers” — and corrupt ones at that. They control our lives in a way that no other agency does. This one arbitrary number affects rates everything financial and more. It affects rates you can get on loans. It affects credit card rates. It’s taken into consideration when you apply for insurance. And recently, it even affects your ability to get a job!  In addition, most people don’t realize that cellphone and cable companies, as well as landlords use the scores as part of customer background checks. Believe it or not, one late payment can cost a person thousands of dollars over the following five to 10 years because credit card companies base interest rates on credit scores.

These credit agencies are worse than organized crime! A loan shark might break  your leg to get his due, but after he’s taken his pound of flesh, it’s done. I love this one comment that appeared on the CBS blog: “The credit rating agencies will symbolically break every bone in your body, harvest your organs for sale to the highest bidder, and leave your carcass to the vultures to be picked clean.”

What was the end result for the woman in the 60 Minutes story? She ended up SUING the credit bureau and settling for a large amount of money. I’m happy for her. She deserved whatever she was awarded. But here’s the logic behind the settlement: The credit bureau finds it easier to deal with the problem this way instead of just  fixing the error in the first place!

What I wanted to know is what genius  bean counter decided that ONE LITTLE NUMBER is the determinant that we are a good people?  Who sees such vivid black and white in our complex gray world?  What about people who have earned a good wage for a long time, paid their bills on time, and managed their credit responsibility for years, who have fallen victim to an economic downturn and unemployment and underemployment for the past several years?  Personally, I’ve watched my 700+ credit score plummet over the past three years. It’s disheartening to know that in the eyes of the credit world, I am just a step above a felon.

So, I’ve decided to join the apathetic millions who don’t concern themselves with this ONE NUMBER issued by these fraudulent agencies who are too lazy to fix mistakes for good people. It really doesn’t matter. I’ve fallen into this credit black hole and have little recourse to solve the dilemma. My choices are–to die or pay cash.

Writers Can’t Lie

telling_the_truth__sjpg353When I was growing up, one of the things my parents taught me was to be truthful—no matter how hard it was to do so, it was what was expected. Now I’m not perfect by any means, but I took this lesson to heart. I can honestly say, I’ve never told a lie. (Well, let me qualify that. Technically, I have never told a lie, but sometimes I haven’t told the whole truth . . . which is really a lie clothed in gilded wraps.)

The whole fake face thing never worked for me. Believe it or not, I never really wore make up on a regular basis until after I was 35. Putting that stuff on my face felt like I was painting on a mask, creating someone who really didn’t exist. Smearing makeup on my face was an outward sign that I was trying to be someone I was not. I’m not exotic or sexy. I’m just the girl next door. After all, a person doesn’t need make-up for that role. Right?

This shortcoming of never learning how to effectively lie has been a problem for me in my grown-up life, especially in the work place. I was a miserable failure when it came to playing the corporate political games, which required a certain amount of lying savvy. I heard more than once, “Don’t sugar coat it, Barb; tell us what you really think.” In other words, “Shut up! You’re committing political suicide, dummy!”

Most of all, though, my failure to tell a good lie is that I’m writer. I’m always looking for the truth. On top of that, I’m also practical. Let’s face it, telling a lie is difficult.  I’m not lazy, but I’d rather spend my energies on producing hard, honest work instead of having to remember what I told to whom.

Another good reason to tell the truth is this: The truth will always come out. Just ask Lance Armstrong and other professional athletes who lied about their cheating tactics and got caught. Because they lied, they will never know how successful they could have been without cheating.

The only thing I’ve found where lying is useful is in storytelling. Take the soap operas. There’s always a series of lies that characters get caught up in, and what are we waiting for everyday when we tune in? I’ll tell you. We’re waiting for the day when the truth is finally revealed!

I look at it this way; I’d rather bear the pain of telling the truth than the shame of having to deal with a lie revealed. It’s just the way I’m built.

Any thoughts?