County extension

If you’re lookng for one source of the urban legend that employers use credit scores, check with your county extension agent.

“Creditors, employers, landlords and others use your credit report and score to determine the interest rate you pay and whether or not you are offered a job, lease or credit.” – University of Missouri Extension

Inquiries about your credit score by employers or lenders without your knowledge or by yourself are not taken into account in the scoring process.” – University of Minnesota Extension

“Maintaining a high credit score will earn you the respect of bankers, mortgage lenders, landlords, and potential employers.” – Geary County, Kansas State University Research and Extension

“Lending agencies, insurance and utility companies, landlords, and prospective employers are just a few of the reasons that everyone needs to build and maintain a good credit score throughout their lifetime. Each of these groups uses credit scores to determine everything from the interest rate charged for a mortgage or car loan to whether someone will be able to live in a particular apartment.” – eXtension, Cooperative Extension System

“Your credit score can also affect how much money you pay for car or homeowners insurance, where you can rent an apartment or open a bank account, and could also affect your ability to be hired for some types of jobs.” – Hillsborough County Extension, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida

“Credit scores can also be used by:… Employers to determine eligibility for some jobs.” – Family and Consumer Sciences Department University of Florida – Sarasota County Extension (cites Hillsborough (see above) as source)

“Why does your credit score matter?  It affects SO many things:… Whether you will get hired for certain jobs.” – Iowa State University Extension and Outreach

“A FICO (Fair Isaac Corporation) score is used nowadays to approve everything from auto and home loans to insurance policies and rental applications.  Employers even use them in the hiring process. And between you and me, rumor has it that scores are even being used at the pearly gates, as we speak! But I wouldn’t believe it, because I’m the one spreading the rumor.” – University of Idaho Extension


Daily Kos

From: Greg Fisher []
Sent: Saturday, January 19, 2013 10:36 PM
To: Markos Moulitsas Zúniga, founder and publisher, Daily Kos; Markos Moulitsas Zúniga, founder and publisher, Daily Kos (2); Markos Moulitsas Zúniga, founder and publisher, Daily Kos (3)
Subject: dating

See this message and your response at

You published, “Credit scores are important to know because of the many other life events they impact — getting loans for major purchases, getting hired at certain companies, etc.”

What are the names of two companies who use credit scores in hiring?

Greg Fisher
Page A2
PO Box 342
Dayton, Ohio  45409-0342


Details relating to New York Times credit score dating story

The New York Times has not responded, so let’s break it down.

1997.  1996 amendments to the FCRA become effective.

2010.  An alleged incident that resulted in a crime.

July 1, 2011.  A woman gives a fantastical account of a life-changing event (the 2010 incident, above) “about a year ago.”  Regarding a date with a man, the woman states, “He asked me point blank what my credit score was and I told him I have no clue.”  Near the end of the piece, she writes, “FYI, he checked my credit score without my approval!”

He didn’t like her figure.

He ended it.  She mentions no crime.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act states, “Any person who knowingly and willfully obtains information on a consumer from a consumer reporting agency under false pretenses shall be fined under title 18, United States Code, imprisoned for not more than 2 years, or both” (1996 amendments to the FCRA).

December 25, 2012.  An article referring to the woman’s claim about her date, “Perfect 10? Never Mind That. Ask Her for Her Credit Score” appears on the New York Times website.  It states, inaccurately, “The credit score, once a little-known metric derived from a complex formula that incorporates outstanding debt and payment histories, has become an increasingly important number used to bestow credit, determine housing and even distinguish between job candidates.”

Employers do not use credit scores.

December 26.  The article is published in at least two of the newspaper’s paper editions. The online version states that it appeared on page A1 of the Times’ New York edition, however, it also appeared on page A1 (the front page) of the National Edition.  The article refers to (conflicting with the account by the woman who went on the date) a dating experience that happened “this year.”

The writer of this website, Page A2 publishes “New York Times front page news, herding cats” on, and alerts the reporter via social media.

December 31.  The writer of this website publishes email to New York Times publisher.  Reporter and New York Times executive editor notified via public social media message.

Wikipedia’s circular reference regarding Daguerre Boulevard du Temple photograph

Despite an onerous set of failsafe measures, Wikipedia has it wrong again. This time, the topic is photography–a technology with a less-than two-hundred year history–and is still developing.

Heh, heh.

Here’s the picture.

The Hokumburg effect

For a time, there was a blog named The Hokumburg Goombah. Wikipedia links to one of its pages, but the page no longer exists. In fact, the blog, itself no longer exists; the home page says, “No posts.”

The hokum in Hokumburg could refer to an item about a very old photograph.  Making the Goombah famous, Robert Krulwich schmoozes

My admiration for Hokumburg jumped another notch when I discovered that on his own blog he’d come up with a city photo older than ours, which he claims may contain the “first photograph of a human being.” Wow! I didn’t check with the experts, but here’s his picture.

Of course, the quote above now links to a Hokumburg page that does not exist–a dead link.

Krulwich also finds Jonah Lehrer’s brilliance “riveting.” And if a subject isn’t riveting enough, Lehrer just makes something up about the person. Lehrer’s publisher gushes, “He graduated from Columbia University and attended Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar.”

That Oxford thing is a big deal.

See how another public radio show was duped in another case.

Wikipedia’s failure

The dead link in Wikipedia was a footnote to a sentence in an article titled, “Boulevard du Temple.”

Previously, the article stated, “A photograph of this street, taken in 1838 by Louis Daguerre, is one of the earliest photographs known, and it is the oldest extant photograph showing a person.[1]

Today, it states, “A photograph of this street, taken in 1838 by Louis Daguerre, is one of the earliest Daguerreotypes known, and it is believed to be the first photograph showing a person,” and there is no footnote giving the source of that alleged fact.

Krulwich scored a link (for a time) in the article, too. Apparently, NPR is a reliable source. That link was titled (note the capitalization), “National Public Radio article on the First Photograph of a Human Ever,” but the title of the Krulwich piece contains a weasely question mark and has different wording: “First Photo Of A Human Being Ever?

Mais, est-ce vraiment le premier?

The copy of the photograph on Wikipedia was taken from the book “The Photography Book” which contains a short discussion of the photograph “Boulevard du Temple” (page 105).  However, the discussion makes no mention of it being the first or earliest anything. The book was first published in 1997 and makes a great conversation piece (as does this sentence) for a coffee table.

George Mason University’s scrappy History News Network contains this text, allegedly from Hokumburg: “But this anonymous shadowy man is the first human being to ever have his picture taken.”

A person identifying himself as Gig Thurmond, Editor, The Hokumburg Goombah,  complains about HNN’s record of another post regarding the photograph. Further, Thumond states, flippantly:

Here’s the secret: We found it on Wikipedia.

Or maybe we googled something like ‘old photographs,’ we can’t remember for sure.

But if it was Wikipedia, then that makes it a circular reference; i.e., Wikipedia cites Thumond while Thurmond cites Wikipedia. The phenomenon can be deadly for facts (search for the word proliferation). And if it was the second explanation, then there is no source. Thurmond used sarcasm, and subsequently–lest there be no misunderstanding–even used sarcasm to identify it as sarcasm. But now that serious descriptions (with superlatives no less) of “Boulevard” by Daguerre is de rigeur, claims of its greatness are fair game for scrutiny.

Talk about your anonymous shadowy figures!

Wikipedia’s constructs

Wikipedia has guidelines, rules, standards, policies, practices, proposals, procedures, principles and pillars, pal.  The Five Pillars fall under Principles.

Wikipedia’s Five Pillars:

  • Wikipedia is an encyclopedia.
  • Wikipedia is written from a neutral point of view.
  • Wikipedia is free content that anyone can edit, use, modify, and distribute.
  • Editors should interact with each other in a respectful and civil manner.
  • Wikipedia does not have firm rules.

So, those are the pillars (when this was written), at least until they are not the pillars. They used to be “unchangeable.” Only in the Wikipedia universe could a sentence like that exist.  Or this: “Wikipedia is not for things made up one day.”

You can’t make this up. And, Wikipedia says that you can’t change anything in Wikipedia, anyway. But don’t be surprised if the last sentence contains a dead link someday.

The first rule of Fight Club: You do not talk about Fight Club.  The second rule of Fight Club: You do not talk about…

But, forget about all that. “Be bold,” brave Wikipedians [aka, potentially, the human race]!  According to Wikipedia, itself, “You do not need to read any rules before contributing to Wikipedia.”


Wikipedia’s rules are more specific than its Pillars regarding reliable sources and verifiability. Well, OK, they are now (see the fifth Pillar (as it stands today)).  If you find that something here does not square with Wikipedia’s description of itself, just log on (or, indeed, nevermind logging on, just surf) to Wikipedia and change it.

However, that could be seen as “gaming the system.” But, you can change that part, too, etc., etc.

Sometimes it is easier to describe what something is not, rather than what it is. Of course everything is something. It’s just that, sometimes, those who create things can’t bring themselves to say what the things really are. So, they describe what they aren’t. And, of course (you guessed it), Wikipedia even has a list of what Wikipedia is not.


Being first is important.  We want–we really, really want–to identify the first photograph of a person (and the first of anything). But, inventors have a lot on their minds, and preserving evidence of a historical moment may not be a priority. Even as important an artifact it was, the Wright brothers 1900 glider was abandoned. On the other hand, a successor to Daguerre’s machine recorded another significant Wright event.

Regarding the Daguerre, in one of its top-ten lists, Listverse states, “This is the first photograph ever taken that captures the image of a man.”

That is dated January, 2009, over a year before Hokumburg’s thing came along. There is no reference, of course.  But then again, there is this thing about Charlie Chaplain.

Unfortunately, Chaplain is not alive to protest.  Indeed, what would Louis Daguerre think about this?

The efficacy of a social media message

The message below followed an exchange in social media.  Some of the links in the message use the nofollow link attribute.

From: Greg Fisher []
Sent: Friday, January 04, 2013 2:10 PM
To: Jim Robertson, managing editor, Columbia Daily Tribune
Cc: Henry J. Waters III, editor & publisher emeritus, Columbia Daily Tribune; Vicki Russell, publisher, Columbia Daily Tribune
Subject: The efficacy of a social media message

Your correction states that your writer’s column “incorrectly implied employers access applicants’ credit scores.”

However, the item still states: “Credit scores are one of life’s most important benchmarks. They help qualify your financial picture for a financial institution, an employer or an insurance company.”

What did your editor do to this piece before it was published?

Who reviewed it after I contacted you?

Could we agree on a definition of implied?

Greg Fisher
Page A2
PO Box 342
Dayton, Ohio  45409-0342

New York Times News Service story republished by Ohio newspaper

From: Greg Fisher []
Sent: Thursday, January 03, 2013 2:37 PM
To: John F. Wolfe, publisher, Columbus Dispatch (via B. Marrison); Alan Miller, managing editor, Columbus Dispatch
Cc: Jill Riepenhoff, reporter, Columbus Dispatch, Dispatch Media Group; Stephanie Serino, director, New York Times News Service/Syndicate
Subject: RE: Credit scars, Columbus Dispatch III, New York Times, syndicated error

Yesterday, you published, “The credit score, once a little-known figure derived from a complex formula that incorporates outstanding debts and payment histories, has become an increasingly important number used to bestow credit, determine housing and even distinguish job candidates.”

Employers do not use credit scores.

Make a correction today.

Greg Fisher
Page A2
PO Box 342
Dayton, Ohio  45409-0342

From: Greg Fisher
Sent: Monday, May 14, 2012 2:33 PM
To: James C. Kennedy, chairman, Cox Enterprises, Inc. (via A. McDill)
Cc: Aime Dunstan, features reporter, Palm Beach Post (2)
Subject: RE: Credit scars, Columbus Dispatch II, Cox

From: Greg Fisher
Sent: Monday, May 14, 2012 1:03 PM
To: John F. Wolfe, publisher, Columbus Dispatch (via B. Marrison)
Cc: Jill Riepenhoff, reporter, Columbus Dispatch, Dispatch Media Group; Aime Dunstan, features reporter, Palm Beach Post; James C. Kennedy, chairman, Cox Enterprises, Inc. (via e. Olmstead)
Subject: RE: Credit scars, Columbus Dispatch II, Cox

The information in your report is mathematically impossible.

If 30 percent of a FICO score is determined by the “Amount owed compared with available credit,” then what percentage is determined by the “Number of accounts with balances”?

You published this quote of a mortgage broker: “‘Now, your life is affected by your credit score: car insurance, cell phones, even as far as employment opportunities.’”

Also, you published: “We all know how important our credit score is. Those with the best scores get better loans, have better jobs and pay lower insurance premiums.”

Subsequently, you published:

Employers also are looking for details of an applicant’s work background. That has become more important because an applicant’s past employers, fearing legal action, rarely release more than job titles and dates of employment.

What’s not a part of the credit check is a credit score, the number that credit-reporting agencies assign to consumers that helps determine how creditworthy they are.

So, as you finally realized, employers do not use credit scores; they cannot even get them.  Ironically, however, you editorialized, “Also, there remains much confusion about the difference between a credit report and a credit score.”

Indeed, even you are confused.

Where do you publish corrections?

From: Greg Fisher
Sent: Thursday, May 10, 2012 5:12 PM
To: Jill Riepenhoff, reporter, Columbus Dispatch
Subject: Credit scars, Columbus Dispatch

A graphic accompanying your story illustrates that 30% of a FICO score is determined by “Amount owed compared with available credit.”

However, Fair Isaac (FICO) itself indicates that only two of 6 items in the category that comprises 30 percent of the importance of its credit score have anything to do with any kind of ratio.

Where do you publish clarifications?

Greg Fisher
Page A2
PO Box 342
Dayton, Ohio  45409-0342