Thursday, September 18, 2008


This is the longest amount of time that I've been the US in about two years, and some things have changed. The change that is bothering me the most right now is the power, influence and importance of a persons credit report. Need car insurance? Your rate is determined not by past accidents or tickets, but your credit score. Great for all of the reckless drivers with excellent credit. Trying to get a new job? Your perspective employer would like to run your credit. You know that three digit number will tell them exactly what kind of an employee you will be. And of course, in order for all of these people to run your credit, you have to hand out your social security number like M&M's. In days identity theft driven world, you have to write down your Social Security number on your job application for CVS. CVS. Nuff said.

Then the other day I read this in November 2007 issue of Parents Magazine. 
"The only institution that you are legally obligated to give your Social Security number to are your employer, your bank and the IRS. Your utility company, cell-phone provider, or credit card company may request it, but there's no law that says you have to give it. . . Remember, even if you think the company is reputable, once you give your SSN it can be seen by every customer service representative or receptionist who has access to your file. [p.134]

News flash. If I don't give the cell phone company my SSN I don't get a cell phone. Refuse to give it on job applications, no job. Credit card company, c'mon. I might not be legally obligated, but my life will be very difficult. And it is a horrible system. Not only because of identity theft, but because the overall system seems designed to keep the rich rich and the poor poor. Let me give you an example.

I went to university. An excellent university. One of the best. Which means it is expensive. My family is not rich so I took out loans. As a result, I left university with a lot of education debt. Then, although the US government wouldn't admit it, the market was already beginning to downturn, and I had a hard time finding a job. So, when I finally found work, I was making less than I paid in tuition, and it was a struggle to pay my bills. But, I went to work, sometimes working two and three jobs to try and pay my loans, and rent, and still eat, and maybe even save a little. Then I get a used car. They run my credit. Remember those loans? Well, my credit score is not great, not awful, but not great. So, my insurance rate goes up. Now the market is bad, and the company I work for goes belly-up. I try and find a new job, and everyone runs my credit. All of those enquires bring down my credit score. Then I get a letter from my credit card company. Not a card I use, my emergency card that I always pay on time, have never been late on, and have only used 3 times, in emergencies. The letter says that they did a review, and have decided to close my account. Not because of issues with their card, but because I owe someone else too much money. Oh, those student loans again. Great. Now one of the positive things on my credit report is a negative because they closed that account. The number is dropping. And because I'm having a hard time getting a job, the bills are going to start to pile up. Do you see the pattern emerging?

Now, if I had a trust fund, I would not have had to take out loans for college. Not getting a job right away wouldn't have been problematic, because I would have been able to pay rent and any other bills anyway. Laid off? No problem, there is enough in savings, or investments, or daddy's bank account. Get the picture?

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