Credit bureaus are well known for tracking consumers’ credit history, including tabulating such details as whether they pay their bills on time and how much debt they carry. And as evidenced by the recent case of Julie Miller, who was awarded $18 million after she sued Equifax — one of the three main credit reporting bureaus — for failing to correct major mistakes in her credit report, the information they compile can sometimes be riddled with errors.
But the bureaus also maintain information that has nothing to do with credit, from consumers’ home addresses to their employment records. While that data isn’t used to calculate credit scores, lenders can access this personal information and use it to help evaluate borrowers who are applying for credit — even to justify denying them a loan altogether. Individuals who change addresses often, for instance, may be presumed less financially stable and harder to track down if unpaid debts ever need to be collected, says Louis Hyman, a consumer-credit historian and assistant professor at Cornell University. Similarly, those who change jobs every few months could be viewed as more likely to miss payments, he says. Read more >>