When was the last time you changed your birthdate? Then why can ID thieves change your birthdate?

This is a question for an investigative journalist as I have yet to receive a straight answer from a credit report agency which I have chosen to keep anonymous, for now:

My question to them:

1) Why is it so easy for an identity thief to change my birthday on my credit, when I have had the same birthdate for 20+ years? It should be next to impossible to change the birthdate. In what % of cases is the birth date wrong – .01%?

2) Why do I now have to PROVE what my birthday is instead of you keeping a record of what it was for the last 20 years.

Their response:

Thank you for contacting XYZ. We are sorry to hear you have become a victim of identity theft.

Identity theft is a very serious matter and we strive to assist in the recovery of all victims who contact us with empathy and professionalism. XYZ, as a credit-reporting agency, assembles, stores, and reports credit information as reported to us from credit grantors who subscribe to our service and from selected public records. Congress understood that credit reporting agencies would not always be given accurate information, and therefore established procedures for consumers to dispute information in their reports. The Fair Credit Reporting Act then requires credit reporting agencies, upon receipt of a consumer’s dispute, to investigate for the first time the accuracy of the item it has reported. If a credit reporting agency accurately reports the information it is given, and then completes its investigation of a consumer’s dispute in a reasonable amount of time, the credit reporting agency has complied with its requirements under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The dispute process may take up to 30 days (45 if

the credit report is from the Central Source and 21 days in the state of Maine) to complete in accordance with the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act. There is no fee for disputing information on your credit report.

My response:

Hi,

Thanks for sending me this info. However it doesn't address my fundamental question: Why, if I have 20+ years of the same birthday on my credit report, can my birthday suddenly be changed by a random person.

Was the identity thief required to send you all kinds of identification to prove that "my" birthday had changed?

Or did they change it once on an application and then it got recorded by you as my birthday?

I really want to understand this as, like I said, I assume only .01% of consumers will ever need to change their birthdays after their credit is first established.

I hope to see an expose in the near future in the national media on this issue! Tell everyone you know and get a groundswell going to get birthdays frozen on credit reports.

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One Comment

  1. Oh, that’s a good one! Classic “corporate” response. Basically, you ask a specific question, and they respond with their “process” and don’t specifically answer one way or the other. Unfortunately, the credit bureaus have been given way too much power and ownership of our personal details. While some % of errors can be expected simply because the laws of %’s, some personal data should be “frozen” as you suggest. I have a feeling that the credit bureaus create a file on a person only when they first receive a request for credit or reference. Because of this, the systems that the bureaus use will undoubtedly become corrupted by human nature (mispellings, data entry fat fingering, etc.). However, as you suggest, if there is some data, such as birthdate, that has not changed from day 1 of a record, then you would think the systems would at least raise a flag when a request comes through the pipe to change it! But, in defense of the bureaus, their systems are probably not designed to handle anything other than entry and archival of data, and their employees not trained on how to do anything other than “data entry.” Their systems should be able to understand when some 20 year-old data is abruptly changed and automagically raise a flag — but they don’t. Their employees should be able to see the same, with-or-without system controls, but they don’t and instead point to a process management created (The “I’m not paid to deviate from the official process” syndrome of call center or data entry employees around the world).
    I’d be very interested in the response you get from the credit agency you’ve referred to…. I’ll be watching. Good luck!

    Reply

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