The same thing, over and over

Senator Mitch McConnell is the minority leader of the U.S. Senate.

Some claim something else.

“In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, provided to The Daily Beast, Cruz writes… ” – National Journal, June 26

“Harvard geochemist Daniel Schrag, an adviser to Obama on climate change, told The New York Times that despite political reluctance, ‘a war on coal is exactly what’s needed.’ Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., tweeted that this is ‘tantamount to declaring a ‘War on Jobs.”” – National Journal, June 25, 2013 (and Yahoo! fell for it)

“‘There is really no sitting Democrat that I can think of right now that has the firepower, monetarily, or has enough gravitas to take him on significantly. I’d be surprised if anybody can run against him who thinks they have a further career in politics.’ –Bruce Lunsford, who ran against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in 2008 (ABC News)” – National Journal, June 24

“The sequester plan that Nabors outlined at the Capitol was refined, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Vice President Joe Biden both weighing in.” – National Journal, May 30

“No one can accuse Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of not preparing for his 2014 campaign — or of failing to take the potential for a tea party primary challenge seriously.” – National Journal, September 13

“Looking to Capitol Hill, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Sens. Mark Warner, D-Va., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., will be on Face the Nation, while Sens. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, will be on State of the Union, all discussing the gridlock that has brought that chamber to a near stand-still, what the Senate plans to and can accomplish before the election, as well as each party’s chance of being in the majority after the election.”

(And, on the same page, there is a two-for-one bonus)

“Face the Nation hosts Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.” – National Journal, May 18, 2012

“In a speech in his home state of Kentucky on Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that Obama’s comments were ‘intolerable’ and an attempt to intimidate the Court into ruling the way he wanted.” – National Journal, April 6, 2012

And, then ladies and gentlemen, there is this one, the Big Kahuna.  The biggest, the baddest, the New-Yorkiest: Da Times.

“Republicans, including the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, and the House leader, Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, have called on Mr. Obama to discard the plan unveiled on Monday, as well as the bills adopted by the House and Senate late last year, and to start over.” – New York Times, February 25, 2010

They didn’t make a correction, but the guy who wrote that is in Russia, now.

New York Times’ syndicated error about credit scores

[PREVIOUS MESSAGE]

From: Greg Fisher [mailto:greg@pagea2.com]
Sent: Tuesday, July 02, 2013 1:51 PM
To: Tom Troy, reporter, Toledo Blade (Block Communications)
Cc: Tim Grant, reporter, personal finance, housing and banking, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Block Communications); Ignazio Messina, reporter, Toledo Blade (Block Communications); John Robinson Block, publisher and editor-in-chief, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Block Communications); Allan Block, chairman, Block Communications (via S. Smith)
Subject: RE: credit score, math, Block Communications, election, 0.86 factor II

Please reply.


Greg Fisher
The Credit Scoring Site
creditscoring.com
Page A2
pagea2.com
PO Box 342
Dayton, Ohio  45409-0342


From: Ignazio Messina [Toledo Blade reporter]
Sent: Wednesday, July 03, 2013 10:13 AM
To: Greg Fisher
Subject: Re: credit score, math, Block Communications, election, 0.86 factor II

Sorry for the late reply as I have gotten a larger volume of emails this week than most. As we said, the conversion is not perfect, and provides a rough estimate so people can have an “apples to apples.” The most recent article just put out the scores with out conversion. If you have an insight, please share.

Thanks


From: Greg Fisher [mailto:greg@pagea2.com]
Sent: Monday, July 08, 2013 12:48 PM
To: Allan Block, chairman, Block Communications (via K. Franck); Allan Block, chairman, Block Communications (via S. Smith)
Cc: Ignazio Messina, reporter, Toledo Blade (Block Communications); Mary-Beth McLaughlin, reporter, assistant city editor, Toledo Blade (Block Communications); Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., publisher, New York Times
Subject: RE: credit score, math, Block Communications, election, 0.86 factor II, lack of sources

You compare apples, oranges and passenger rail: A FICO score, the VantageScore and the Equifax Credit Score.  But thank you for eventually replying and saving me a 5 a.m. wakeup call.

I have no formula to equate one credit score with another.  And, even though VantageScore recently announced that it would reconfigure its scale to 300 to 850, that does not mean that the curves of a FICO score model with the same endpoints has the same shape, or that the probability for default at 700 is same for both brands of credit scores.

Regarding your conversion formula, an error of 24 percent (131 on a 551-point scale) is, indeed, rough.  Lest I attribute that inaccurate conversion method to you, I asked for your source.  What is the name of your source?  As you can see, in a story from two years ago, your reporter did not provide a name (even after I asked for the source), either—and it’s not like these are matters of national security.

The blithe notion that such a formula can be so simple does not appear to be an original thought.  Providing the name of your source so that I can ask them about the calculation may help another unwitting reporter from being duped.

Your casual translation notwithstanding, the point is moot because you confused one score with another.  You indicate that one candidate for mayor of Toledo had a credit score of 635 “according to Equifax credit-reporting companies, using the FICO model that runs from 300 to 850.”

However, the scale of that candidate’s credit score that you published starts at 280, not 300 (and that fact is not hard to find; it is notated on the next line of the credit report, directly below the score that you cited).  It was the Equifax Credit Score, not a FICO, and that means that the range is 571, as opposed to the range of the FICO, 551.  So, the candidate’s place on the continuum is not 335 points from the lowest score (as you reported), it is 355 points from the lowest.

At this point, I am not as concerned with credit score comprehension, interpretation, bad math logic and an unusual local election tradition as I am with a shadow that I have chased for 5 years.  In 2005, with no substantiation, you reported, “Increasingly, though, such scores are used by landlords, potential employers, and insurance companies to determine someone’s financial health.”

That typical fear-mongering word-series setup (the lions-tigers-and-bears line of this pathetic chapter in journalism), leads many articles about credit scores in order to shock the reader and win attention.  But it isn’t the truth.

As you can see in this email thread, I originally contacted you two years ago—enough time for you to name a source or make a correction.  Subsequently, you even republished a New York Times item from late last year that also makes the inaccurate claim that employers use credit scores.  The downside of syndication is the syndicated error.

Belief of this myth has had serious consequences in other parts of the country, and I want to end that nonsense before it comes to our statehouse again.  Employers do not use credit scores.  I looked into it.

Not many seemed to care about credit scores when I registered the creditscoring.com domain 14 years ago.  Similarly, today, few seem to care about corrections on Page A2 of the nation’s newspapers.  That is why I registered pagea2.com—to again address a commonplace problem.  The website at that address deals with the antithesis of the burden of proof, standards of evidence and naming sources: Proving what is not true.  It is disproving the conventional wisdom when affirmative statements are a lot of balderdash.  Credit scores are a convenient vehicle.

The only response I expect from you—and I expect it today—is correction of your errors.  In the case I brought to your attention in 2011, two years is enough time to allow you to do something about it.  Given the demonstration of the fallibility of the New York Times, their three-word name is now only a cliché.  Don’t allow that organization’s error to remain on your website and misinform another person.


Greg Fisher
The Credit Scoring Site
creditscoring.com
Page A2
pagea2.com
PO Box 342
Dayton, Ohio  45409-0342

Daily Kos

From: Greg Fisher [mailto:greg@pagea2.com]
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 http://www.pagea2.com/daily-kos/.

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
pagea2.com
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 PageA2.com, 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.

New York Times News Service story republished by Ohio newspaper

From: Greg Fisher [greg@pagea2.com]
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
pagea2.com
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
pagea2.com
PO Box 342
Dayton, Ohio  45409-0342

 

Email to New York Times publisher

From: Greg Fisher [mailto:greg@pagea2.com]
Sent: Monday, December 31, 2012 1:21 PM
To: Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., publisher, New York Times; Complaints about errors that warrant correction, New York Times
Cc: Jessica Silver-Greenberg, reporter, New York Times; Ann Carrns, Bucks, New York Times; Andrew Martin, reporter, New York Times
Subject: Error: credit scores, 2012-12-26 front page story

In a front page story titled, “Perfect 10? Never Mind That. Ask Her for Her Credit Score,” (page A1, New York Times, December 26, 2012) you published, “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.”

However, previously, you published, “Employers don’t use credit scores in employment screening, but they can and do access credit reports.”

Both statements can’t be true.  Regarding the notion that credit scores are even used to distinguish between job candidates, provide a source or make a correction today.

Corrections are published on Page A2.


Greg Fisher
Page A2
pagea2.com
PO Box 342
Dayton, Ohio  45409-0342

New York Times front page news, herding cats

Today, December 26, 2012, a newspaper named the New York Times published an item on page A1 of its “New York” edition.

The article states, “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.”

Key words: increasingly, even, and score (as opposed to report).

The Times fails to attribute its reporting of the alleged use of credit scores to distinguish between job candidates to any source.  However, later in the same article, the publication states, “And while eight states, including California, Illinois and Maryland, have passed laws limiting employers ability to use credit checks when assessing job candidates, 13 percent of employers surveyed by the Society of Human Resource Management in July performed credit checks on all job applicants.”

That says credit checks, not credit scores, so, still, there is no attribution regarding the claim about scores.

The top three consumer reporting agencies all state that they do not provide credit scores for employment purposes.

While the Times refers to a survey conducted in July, SHRM’s website page about a study done December 28, 2011 through Feb. 7 states, “The percentage of employers that conduct credit background checks on potential employees has dropped since 2010, according to a 2012 survey of 544 U.S.-based HR professionals.”

SHRM confirmed that a previous survey it conducted did not refer to credit scores.  The association’s website also states, “A credit score is a number that gives a snapshot of a period of time; employers do not see this information.”

Recently, the President of the United States said:

If you haven’t checked out your credit score recently, you should.  It can have a major impact on your life.  It can determine whether or not you qualify for a loan or what kind of interest you have to pay.  It can even affect your chances at renting an apartment or getting a job.

A year ago, after a Christmastime message about employers and credit scores, Wikipedia (the message board that looks like an encyclopedia) co-founder Jimmy Wales removed an “unsourced controversial claim” about employers using credit scores.  Wales was quickly usurped, and the unbudging myth returned, this time with a reference to the Times.

New York Times, errors, corrections and clarifications

From: Greg Fisher, Page A2
Sent: Friday, May 04, 2012 12:28 AM
To: Ann Carrns, Bucks, New York Times
Cc: Anthony Sprauve, US Consumer / FICO Score Public Relations, Fair Isaac
Subject: credit score, FICO, distribution

You wrote, “The report found, though, that just 15.5 percent of consumers had scores in the 700 to 799 range — the lowest that FICO has recorded since it began tracking such data in 2005.”

The number is 749, not 799.

However, there is a greater problem.


Greg Fisher
Page A2
pagea2.com
PO Box 342
Dayton, Ohio  45409-0342

[5/21 UPDATE: Times follow-up]