Consumers Union, Microsoft, viral myth and error

From: Greg Fisher [mailto:greg@pagea2.com]
Sent: Thursday, April 05, 2012 11:35 AM
To: Stacy Johnson, CPA, executive producer, publisher, president, journalist, Money Talks News
Cc: Walter D. Bristol, chairman, Consumer Reports, Consumers Union; Amanda Walker, Consumer Reports senior project editor, Consumers Union; Margaret Shader, Web associate editor, Consumer Reports, Consumers Union; Communications, Consumers Union; James A. Guest, president, CEO, consumer Reports, Consumers Union; K. James Yager, CEO, director, Barrington Broadcasting Group, LLC; Miranda Marquit, staff writer, Moolanomy; Miranda Marquit, personal finance advice blogger, Family Money, Equifax; Amey Stone, deputy managing editor, MSN Money, Microsoft; Richard Jenkins, MSN Money, Microsoft; MSN Money editors, Microsoft; Christopher Oster, managing editor, MSN Money, Microsoft
Subject: RE: whistle stop, Consumers Union, Barrington Broadcasting, Money Talks News, MSN Money, viral

See this message and your response at http://www.pagea2.com/tag/microsoft/.

You appear to be part of a chain of sources for a myth and error gone viral.

Your video—to which a Barrington Broadcasting story appears to refer—now appears on Microsoft’s MSN Money.  The MSN article that surrounds it, “Why non-FICO credit scores aren’t worth buying” (elsewhere titled, “Don’t Buy Non-FICO Credit Scores”) is written by a blogger who actually works with Equifax, one of only two companies who sell the FICO credit score to consumers.

In the video (in which you mention Consumers Union), you state, “Your credit score is obviously important if you’re borrowing money, but many employers also look at scores when hiring.”

Employers do not use credit scores.

At the moment, your piece (titled “Time for free credit scores”) is the featured video on the MSN Money page, “Video tips: Credit scores, credit reports – MSN Money.”  The page says:

The world of credit has seen dramatic changes recently. While interest rates are low, lending standards are higher. Having a high credit rating is more important than ever, yet many people are buried in debt and hobbled by bad credit.

Good thing you’ve found MSN Money’s archive of videos about credit scores. How often should you request your credit reports and monitor your credit scores? How can you raise your credit scores? What are FICO scores?

Your video also appears (with advertisements) on your website, Money Talks News.  On the page containing the video, you exaggerate: “It’s no exaggeration to say your credit score can change your life. This single number can determine whether you get a job or own a home.”

Who told you that?


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

 

From: Greg Fisher [mailto:greg@creditscoring.com]
Sent: Friday, March 23, 2012 2:34 PM
To: K. James Yager, CEO, director, Barrington Broadcasting Group, LLC
Cc: Walter D. Bristol, chairman, Consumer Reports, Consumers Union; Amanda Walker, Consumer Reports senior project editor, Consumers Union; Communications, Consumers Union; James A. Guest, president, CEO, consumer Reports, Consumers Union
Subject: Whistle-Stop, Consumers Union, Barrington Broadcasting, Who told you that?

With incredulity, you published: “Your credit score is obviously important if you’re borrowing money. But many employers also look at scores when hiring.”

At the bottom of that story is a link to the “Consumers Union website,” however, the Consumers Union page at the link address does not support your statement; it does not mention employers.

On a whistle-stop tour this month, I visited Consumer Reports.  The person with that organization I spoke to there wrote:

Sent: Thursday, March 08, 2012 1:34 PM
To: greg@creditscoring.com
Subject: Follow up to your visit earlier today

Hello Greg,

After your visit, I conferred with Mandy Walker and our experts over at Consumers Union (the advocacy arm of Consumer Reports), and we’ve since updated Mandy’s quote in my blog to more accurately reflect the updated language now found at the website cited.

I just wanted to thank you for bringing this to my attention, and apologize for the communication disconnect that occurred on this end between Consumers Union and Consumer Reports, which meant the update was not made to the blog post sooner.

Again, thanks for your sharp eye and follow through,
[name]

(Despite that, still, another Consumers Union document states, inaccurately, “Without a Disaster Information Shield, FICO scoring models could pose an affirmative barrier to the efforts of disaster victims to regain, and maintain, financial stability, access reasonably priced credit, and even regain employment.”)

Your page even contains advertisements while misinforming readers by saying that employers use credit scores.

Who told you that?


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