Verizon's 'Free Gift' to Customers: Giving Data to Credit Bureaus

By Bruce Mohl, Globe Staff | May 21, 2006

Verizon Communications Inc. has begun reporting to the nation's three credit bureaus which Massachusetts customers pay their bills on time and which ones don't, a practice a company spokesman described as 'a free gift to the public.'

The telecommunications giant says its reports to Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion will help consumers with limited credit histories build a payment record that can be used to secure lower rates on mortgages, credit cards, and car loans.

But there's a flip side to this 'free gift' from Verizon. Those who don't make their phone payments on time will end up with a black mark on their credit history. A Verizon spokesman acknowledged the idea of sharing payment data originated with the company's bill collection people as a way of spurring customers to pay on time.

"It's not a very big stick, but it's a stick," said spokesman James Smith.

Consumers with unlisted phone numbers are also upset their numbers are being shared with credit bureaus. A check of my credit reports showed that TransUnion identifies Verizon customers by their complete phone number. Reports from Experian and Equifax identify Verizon customers by their phone numbers minus the last digit.

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