I am old, really old. 94 years old - did you know?
In preparation for leaving the U.S., I went out to to obtain my cost free annual credit report. Before being let in, I answered all the personal questions that are supposed to make the content of the site - your credit report - secure.
The second one of the three national credit reporting agencies - TransUnion - surprised me in a fundamental way. In order to log onto their site for the first time, they challenge you with a number of personal questions. There was an easy one - at least I thought so - my year of birth. I entered it once: "invalid response!"
- Gee, that can't be, try again: "invalid response!" - what?
Fortunately, they gave me a choice of other personal questions to get around this one and still get into the report. When I finally retrieved the entire report, I was flabbergasted: my date of birth was 01/1911. Surprised? Well, if your credit report says so, it must be right! Right?
At the end of the day, these organizations make their living by providing factual, neutral and credible information to whichever party that is interested in figuring out whether you are creditworthy. Now isn't your age one of the pivotal attributes that determine whether you would be worth a credit, in other words, whether a lender providing you with monetary instruments today runs any abnormal risk of getting that money back from you - typically within your lifetime?
How did this incredible error happen? What is the source for that totally wrong piece of information? Who has provided this data about me to TransUnion and confirmed to them that this would in fact be my date of birth? Do I now have to be concerned about who else might have this wrong information about my date of birth that I need to track down and get corrected whereever it happens to be filed? Are ther any other bad consequences that may I incur because of this data error?
Just in case this date was entered as a mere matter of speculation - then why did TransUnion pick this particular date? If this date was in fact a mere speculation, how can a recipient of the credit report now trust the reliability of the rest of its data? Would it be possible that during the entry of a new personal record, the computer system was prompting the entering user to provide a date of birth - even if they didn't have any evidence about it?
Anyhow, I just had to call TransUnion, find out that they needed me to send a copy of my drivers license and hopefully they will correct my credit record on their file.
My takeaway - remember: nobody is useless, they can always serve as a bad example - I see this as a great example of why it is really important to be in touch with what somebody has put on record about you. Particularly, if that somebody could be instrumental in guiding other person's decisions about things that may affect you personally in a deep way.