The Wall Street Journal is reporting a development in the investigation of wrongdoing by D&B Credibility and Dun & Bradstreet, a story for which The Good Search served as whistleblower.  I brought the story to Wall Street Journal search firm columnist Joann Lublin.  She and Angus Loten broke the story in June, complete with a photo shoot: Just a half year later, the story has legs.  The WSJ has just reported on its website that Dun & Bradstreet Will Face Charges Over Credit Ratings. And there is more to come. (Stay tuned!) To understand why I urged the WSJ to report the story, I thought it might help to give you a sense of why what they are doing is so infuriating. D&B Credibility had emailed me an “alert” stating that it had lowered my firm’s credit rating, which struck me as odd because we have excellent credit and always pay on time.
When I called them to find out what the issue was, our conversation went something like this:

Krista Bradford: I just got your email credit alert. What’s caused the drop? We are current on all of our payments.

D&B Credibility: Nothing negative has been reported on your company.  

Krista Bradford: Then how can you justify lowering our score?

D&B Credibility: It was probably an algorithm.

Krista Bradford: Probably? You mean you don’t know?

D&B Credibility: Not really. It could be a lot of things. 

Krista Bradford: I’m not asking what it could be: what exactly happened?

D&B Credibility: Dun & Bradstreet is the company that gathers the data. We’re D&B Credibility.  We offer a credit builder program to help you with your problem. The cost is about $1000 a year.

Krista Bradford:  Yes, but it isn’t my problem: it is your problem. I don’t think I should have to pay $1000 for Dun & Bradstreet to get its facts right. 

D&B Credibility: The credit builder program is designed to help improve your credit score. You can upload your financial information and share vendor information to bring your score back up — all for around $1000 a year.

Krista Bradford:  So let me get this straight, you want me to give Dun & Bradstreet proprietary financial information that is not public (we’re privately held ) to build out your database with data you’ll turn around and sell — just so you won’t falsely report that we’re a risk?  And to top it off, you want me to pay you $1000 for this “subscription”? You still haven’t given me any proof that you’re not making this up.

D&B Credibility: The companies reporting credit data do so voluntarily.

Krista Bradford:  In other words, the credit reporting is entirely random and unreliable.

D&B Credibility: We do not share names of the reporting companies.

Krista Bradford: How about specific transaction dates or amounts?

D&B Credibility: Nope. We do not share that information either.

Krista Bradford:  Gotcha. . . .Chase and American Express do not voluntarily give Dun & Bradstreet credit details on my firm. I know because I asked.  They’re our primary creditors with whom we have excellent credit. So, where exactly are you getting your information? 

D&B Credibility:  I told you, that’s confidential.

Krista Bradford:  Okay, so if you aren’t getting the information from my primary creditors and won’t tell me what companies, if any, are providing information about us, perhaps you could explain why no one from D&B ever contacted us to verify any of your information. 

D&B Credibility: You were called.

Krista Bradford: Oh, really? What’s number did you call?

D&B Credibility: (203) XXX-YYYY

Krista Bradford: I don’t know whose number that is, but I can tell you that most certainly is not ours.

D&B Credibility: Ms Bradford, we’re trying to help you. The credit builder program is designed to help improve your credit score. You can upload your financial information and share vendor information to bring your score back up — all for around $1000 a year.

Krista Bradford: Wow.

I encourage you to read the WSJ articles and to comment:

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