The goal of giving form to a complex situation like the credit crisis is to quickly supply the essence of the situation to those unfamiliar and uninitiated. This project was completed as part of my thesis work in the Media Design Program, a graduate studio at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. For more on my broader thesis work exploring the use of new media to make sense of a increasingly complex world, visit my website here.
Visualization was also a part of my Master’s thesis, though only in theory.
Finally got thru to Experian (the number for disputes that worked was 1 800 208 9232) and cleared 21 accounts from my credit report that weren’t mine as well as at least a dozen addresses where I never lived. The woman on the phone confirmed that “this happens all the time.” These computers are made by humans, she said. Sounds like you really need some new computers, or an overhaul of your IT staff, I rebutted.
All in all, I was only concerned about this until I realized that the issue didn’t exists on either my TransUnion or Equifax credit reports. If anything, it only felt bizarre to know so much about another’s credit history and status — in this case, a married woman my age with two mortgages and a couple credit cards with nearly 100k in combined balances (among 18 other open accounts).
I had no luck disputing via FreeCreditReport.com as Experian’s site appeared to not be functioning for many days. However, I began the process again thru TransUnion’s TrueCredit.com site.
I was appalled to find out that not only am I being charged monthly for a service — FreeCreditReport.com (billed as CIC*TRIPLE ADVANTAGE) — that I don’t use but that according to Experian, my SS# and credit history is apparently tied to one ANDREA LAVELLE, also known as Andrew C. Sternberg, and born in 1964 (my actual year of birth is 1975). Only one of three addresses listed are mine and among my supposed debts are a quarter-million dollars in real estate assets (I’ve only rented — never owned).
UPDATE JUNE 6: Finally got thru to Experian (the number for disputes that worked was 1 800 208 9232) and cleared 21 accounts from my credit report that weren’t mine as well as at least a dozen addresses where I never lived. The woman on the phone confirmed that “this happens all the time.” These computers are made by humans, she said. Sounds like you really need some new computers, or an overhaul of your IT staff, I rebutted.
UPDATE: I discovered that indeed one Andrea Lavelle does work at Antioch Tire in Antioch, IL — at the very address listed on MY Experian credit report. Thanks to some Google searching and a call to my purported identity thief’s workplace, I know when she’ll be in the office — but I don’t know who to send (or if there might be a third party involved whose hijacking both of our identities). Guess I’ll call the FTC in the morning.
Upon calling FreeCreditReport.com customer care I was instructed to file a dispute on the website, however, when disputing the first thing listed (the address) i was told that their online disputing system is currently unavailable. I then asked, no, demanded to know why two unknown addresses as well as several assets that aren’t mine are listed on this record which is supposedly based on my social security number. Fill out this form is all I was told. And they will e-mail you. Well the second form didn’t get me anywhere as you can see from the error message below.
So, HOW can I find out what’s up with this BS on my credit report? Is this a bug on Experian’s end (owner of FreeCreditReport.com and issuer of my inaccurate credit report) or has someone who goes by Andrea Lavelle been piggybacking on my credit for better and/or worse? For the record, my credit score according this report is fine, so I have yet to be adversely affected by this mystery (as far as I know).