Credit Bureaus Release Your Credit Data on July 1?

An email is making the rounds again that says the credit bureaus are about to sell all of your personal data unless you call and “opt out.” Is this really going to happen, or is this another one of those stupid emails you forward to all your friends and coworkers that ends up being fake?

Why don’t you judge for yourself? Here’s the email:

“Just wanted to let everyone know who hasn’t already heard, the four major credit bureaus in the US. will be allowed, starting July 1, to release your credit info, mailing addresses, phone numbers etc. to anyone who requests it. If you would like to ‘opt out’ of this release of info, you can call 1-888-567-8688. It only takes a couple of minutes to do, and you can take care of anyone else in the household while making only one call, you’ll just need to know their social security number. Be sure to listen closely, the first opt out is only for two years, make sure you wait until they prompt you to press ‘3’ on your keypad to opt out for good.”

So, are the credit bureaus going to “release your credit info, mailing addresses, phone numbers etc. to anyone who request’s it”?

The answer is both yes and no.

YES

The credit bureaus already have permission to sell access to your credit profile. They match your credit profile to an offer a lender or insurance company wants to make and presto – a piece of junkmail ends up in your mailbox or you get a telemarketing call at dinnertime. It’s part of how they make their money.

  • Learn more about how this process works on our credit bureaus page.
  • If you’re excited about reading long government documents, you can learn a lot by browsing through the Fair Credit Reporting Act, or FCRA. This is the law from the Federal Trade Commission that provides the guidelines for access to your credit.

NO

The credit bureaus can’t give access to just anyone and they don’t show any of your non-public data unless there is a “permissible” purpose. Permissible purposes include checking the backgrounds of persons to determine their credit worthiness before selling or renting property to them, extending them loans or credit, or considering them for employment.

This is all stuff that you would be asked about in advance and would have to give your permission to. The credit bureaus are not going to be handing out your social security number and account numbers like halloween candy to anyone that asks.

DO I NEED TO OPT-OUT?

I would suggest you opt-out of all pre-approved credit offers. This reduces your risk of becoming a victim of identity theft and it means you’ll be getting less junkmail and telemarketing calls. Learn how to opt-out on our junkmail and telemarketing page.

Author: Dave Nielsen

I started using computers in 1978 on the Apple II and was first online (using my “high-speed” 1200 baud modem) in 1989. I’ve managed web sites for several Fortune 500 companies and for internet start-ups. Working for one of those start-ups is what brought me into the world of credit. I was part of the the executive team that ran QSpace, the first company to offer credit reports over the internet.

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