Category Archives: History

What the Data Breach Prevention and Compensation Act Could Mean for You

Posted by Erica Steeves on January 22, 2018

What the Data Breach Prevention and Compensation Act Could Mean for You

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The big Equifax hack of 2017 created a mess for a lot of American consumers. In fact, it’s estimated that about 143 million Americans were victimized in the hack, and the hack has the potential to be very detrimental in the long-term should the hackers take the confidential information that they swiped and put it to use. As if the hack wasn’t bad enough, Equifax was widely criticized for how it handled the matter and its lack of transparency with consumers. Bottom line: The hack was a raw deal, especially for American consumers. Equifax, while subject to bad publicity, might end up making money off of it in the long run. There could be hope moving forward, however. A new bill introduced by U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) and Mark Warner (D-Virginia) would penalize the credit reporting agencies in the event of any future data breaches. The thinking behind the bill is that any future data hacks wouldn’t just spell bad news for American consumers, but for the agencies that left consumer data susceptible too. The bill is a direct response to the perception that credit bureaus aren’t doing enough to protect the data they collect.

What this bill would mean:

There’s no word on whether the bill will be going to a vote, but here’s a closer look at what the bill would mean should it pass:
  • Credit reporting bureaus would be subject to regular inspection by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to ensure that they’re taking the proper measures to protect confidential consumer data.
  • Should a data breach occur, the FTC would be authorized to fine the credit reporting agencies $100 per consumer affected. The bill calls for half of the amount collected for such purposes to go to the consumers that were impacted. Think about that for a moment. If this bill were in effect when the Equifax hack occurred, the FTC could have collected up to $14.3 billion in penalties, with over $7 billion getting kicked back to the consumers who were victimized.
  • Senator Warren hasn’t been a stranger to proposing credit-related legislation. Following the 2017 Equifax hack, she proposed a pair of bills. One would have prohibited employers from making hiring decisions based on a person’s credit. The other would have allowed consumers to indefinitely freeze and unfreeze their credit any time they wished for free. Neither bill made it out of committee and to vote, however.
  • The Consumer Industry Data Association opposes the proposed bill, stating that the reporting bureaus already follow stringent enough standards. In a statement to CNET, its president and CEO said the bureaus would, however, like to work with Congress to make credit reporting safer and more secure.
The 2017 Equifax hack was blamed on a pair of issues – human error and a technical mishap. With that in mind, it’s enough to wonder if just one of the issues were to have been removed if the data breach would have occurred at all. For some, the proposed bill may be viewed as even more red tape in an already highly regulated field. But when it comes to data as confidential as social security numbers and credit information, can you really be too careful?

A Brief History of Transunion

Posted by Erica Steeves on November 14, 2017

A Brief History of TransUnion

Image result for transunion building You likely already know TransUnion as one of the “big three” credit reporting agencies. And though it’s actually the smallest of the big three behind Experian and Equifax, the Chicago, Illinois-based company has a rich 49-year history. What’s more is that unlike Equifax, it doesn’t have the baggage hanging over its head in the wake of the massive hack from summer 2017. TransUnion profiles just about every credit-active consumer in the United States, so it’s safe to assume that it knows a lot about you. But how much do you know about it? Here’s a brief history of TransUnion so that you can get better acquainted with the firm that already knows your consumer behavior so well:

A Brief History of TransUnion

  • 1968: This was the official year that TransUnion was born. Specifically, it was born as the parent holding company to the Union Tank Car Company, which practiced in the rail car industry.
  • 1969: A year after TransUnion was born, it acquired the Credit Bureau of Cook County (CBCC). The CBCC had maintained more than 3.5 million card files, making TransUnion the first in the credit reporting field to streamline consumer file updates. But its days as a credit reporting bureau were just getting started.
  • 1981: TransUnion is sold to The Marmon Group for $688 million.
  • The 90s: In addition to growing staff and expanding its facilities, TransUnion branched out to offer business-to-business services. This offering was in addition to its existing ability to maintain and update credit information on every market-active consumer in America.
  • 2002: TransUnion acquires www.TrueCredit.com, marking its entry into the direct-to-consumer market. TrueCredit.com helps consumers better understand their credit scores and outlines strategies to help improve them.
  • 2010: Goldman Sachs Capital Partners and Advent International acquire TransUnion.
  • 2013: In October 2013, TransUnion launched CreditVision, an evolution of the traditional credit score that is designed to better identify consumer trends, consumer behavior, and debt and repayment data.
  • 2014: TransUnion implements ResidentCredit, a consumer-friendly tactic that reported on rental payment data as a means of boosting credit scores. In 2014, the company also acquired TLO, which collects data on people and companies from about one hundred thousand sources of data, for $154 million.
  • 2015: In January 2015, TransUnion revamped its brand and mantra with the goal of conveying its desire to empower consumers to make smarter decisions and live better lives.
  • 2015: In June 2015, TransUnion becomes a publicly-traded company for the first time in its history. It trades under the “TRU” ticker symbol.
  • Today: Presently, TransUnion is a worldwide company with about 4,700 total employees. In 2016, it posted total revenue of about $1.7 billion. Today, TransUnion compiles and aggregates data and information on more than 1 billion consumers across more than 30 countries.
As you can see, TransUnion didn’t turn into the credit reporting giant that it is today overnight. It took nearly 50 years of strategic acquisitions, innovative product launches and diversifying. Minimally, every consumer should know that they can receive one free credit report per year from TransUnion.

A Brief Timeline of Financial Crisis

Posted by Erica Steeves on October 30, 2017

A Brief Timeline of Financial Crisis

If you’re not learning from the past, chances are you’re doomed to repeat it. That’s why it’s so important that we all learn from the financial crisis and the mishaps of the past, from the recent “Great Recession” of 2008 all the way back to the 1772 credit crisis. Here’s a closer look at some of the great financial crises and what we need to take out of all of them:

A Timeline of Financial Crisis

Financial Crisis History
16 Nov 1930, Chicago, Illinois, USA — Notorious gangster Al Capone attempts to help unemployed men with his soup kitchen “Big Al’s Kitchen for the Needy.” The kitchen provides three meals a day consisting of soup with meat, bread, coffee, and doughnuts, feeding about 3500 people daily at a cost of $300 per day. — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS
  • Crisis of 1772: Originating in London and then spreading throughout Europe, the crisis stunted economic growth and led to the failure of 20 banks.
  • The Great Depression: Fueled by a drop in stock prices in September 1929 and a full-blown stock market crash less than two months later, the Great Depression had a major impact on the entire world. Worldwide GDP fell by 15 percent, trade plummeted and unemployment skyrocketed. Many economies didn’t recover until World War II began.
  • 1973 Oil Crisis: Due to perceived support of Israel during the Yom Kippur War, OPEC embargoed oil to a variety of Western nations, including the U.S. This embargo caused oil prices to skyrocket from $3 a barrel to $12 worldwide. A second crisis occurred in 1979.
  • 1997 Asian Financial Crisis: With Thailand bankrupt, crisis spread throughout much of Asia in 1997, often raising concern that it could spread worldwide. The crisis was plagued by low currency, devalued stock markets and an increase in private debt. Debt-to-GDP ratios also climbed.
  • The Great Recession: Though this recession lasted less than two years, the effects were devastating. A financial crisis and subprime mortgage crisis was the perfect double whammy for this recession, so much so that the financial sector was in great peril (that is, before the banks were bailed out). The housing market tanked and manufacturing slowed to a trickle, forcing a variety of bankruptcies and closures.
So what can we learn from the various crises of the past? Lots. For instance, don’t invest all of your money in one entity – diversify it. Secondly, it’s always a good idea to take the appropriate measures to ensure that you’re debt free. Not only does this keep your credit score and borrowing power high, but things are less likely to snowball on you in times of uncertainty. And finally, live frugally. Don’t borrow any more than what you need – and only do it when you need it.  

Closing Out a Credit Card – Does it Damage Your Credit?

Posted by Nikitas Tsoukalis on April 29, 2014

Closing Out a Credit Card – Does it Damage Your Credit? So your credit score in unfavorable and you want to get your finances in order. However, credit repair is a big part of getting your FICO score back in favorable order. So what’s there to do? To put it read more