Verizon's 'Free Gift' to Customers: Share Info and Numbers

Verizon is sharing payment history with credit bureaus. This may not
be any more extraordinary than a bank doing so. But Verizon uses
your telephone number as your account number, even if it is
"non-published."
Verizon's 'free gift' to customers
Boston Globe published 21 May 2006 Author: B Mohl
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.
One Stoneham resident, who asked not to be identified because his
identity had previously been stolen, said he was shocked to see his
unpublished phone number, minus the last digit, on his Equifax report.
"It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out what that last number
is," he said. "I'm paying them $5 a month to maintain a nonpublished
number. Who else has access to this database?"
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Jessica Taylor
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