NBC Promotes Experian Program that “Instantly Boosts” a Participant’s Credit Score
In a recent blog post, NBC News has decided to promote a program from credit bureau Experian that promises a quick increase in a person’s credit score. Though consumers should carefully consider all techniques for improving credit, NBC buries some valid criticisms of the program.
What is Experian Boost?
Giant credit bureau Experian is rolling out a new program called Experian Boost that it claims will help certain people increase their credit score. Currently, the only realistic way to improve your credit score consists of:
- Finding errors in your report that are hurting you. For example, a report might claim that an account is in collections when it really isn’t. If you correct the error, you can receive a boost to your score.
- Making regular payments for at least the minimum on time. Late payments will hurt your score, and regular payments should cause a rise. Unfortunately, this technique takes time.
- Paying down your debts. Generally, the less available credit you use, then the higher your credit score. Paying down debt also takes time.
In sum, unless you have credit report errors, it can take a while to improve your score.
This is where Experian Boost comes in. You give Experian permission to access your online bank accounts and they look at cable, phone, and utility payments for the past 2 years. They then deliver this information to a potential lender.
In theory, some people who have poor credit because of credit card misuse might have made regular payment on utilities and other bills. These regular payments will improve a person’s payment history, leading to a bump up in credit scores. The program can also help young people with little credit history by showing that they are financially responsible.
What are the Downsides?
The NBC story read almost like an advertisement from Experian. In fact, they quoted an industry analyst as saying there were no apparent downsides.
However, participants need to know that they are giving Experian access to their bank records. So someone in this giant company now knows your checking account number. Also, Experian was the target of a massive 2017 data breach, which exposed private information of millions of people. By sharing your banking information with Experian, you are increasing the risk of theft.
Also, Experian Boost claims that they will only collect “positive” payment history, not negative payment history. But there is really no way to guarantee this. For example, you might have been late with your cable bill a few times last year. Experian will be able to see the months that you didn’t pay your cable bill. Though they claim they won’t use this information against you, it could still be collected and used in the future.
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