Virtually everyone who's ever had the credit-rating system explained to them immediately understood that this was a complete scam: these companies that most of us have never heard of nonconsensually ingest gigantic mountains of data about you and your life and produce a numeric score that is nearly impossible to explain and extremely frustrating to alter, and that number is used to determine your access to work, rental accommodations, loans, mortgages and more.
And that's before you factor in the history of these companies, rooted in the idea of compiling secret dossiers to destroy the lives of political dissidents, activists, queer people, and other downtrodden people.
And it's also before you factor in Equifax's monumental security blunder that leaked the most sensitive and personal data of virtually every adult American, as well as millions in other countries around the world.
Enter Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who has made an art out of using her committee time to ask the kinds of pointed questions that reveal the extent to which the system is rigged and corrupt, and has been for a very long time (it's no wonder that corporate lobbyists dread approaching her).
At a Tuesday meeting of the House Financial Services Committee, AOC grilled Equifax CEO Mark Begor over the business's practices, laying out the case against the credit reporting industry with just a few simple questions: first setting the scene by establishing that there is no way for Americans to opt out of having their data amassed by the bureaux, and then firebombing it by pointing out that 20% of Americans -- millions and millions of people -- have had substantial errors in those dossiers, with potentially life-ruining consequences.
Back in 2016, I wrote that Leonard Cohen's "Everybody Knows" was the anthem for our time: "Everybody knows the fight was fixed/The poor stay poor, the rich get rich/That's how it goes/Everybody knows."
The Trump election felt like a triumph of everybody-knows-ism: "Everybody knows that the dice are loaded... Everybody knows the good guys lost." But AOC feels like a new take on everybody-knows-ism: saying aloud the shameful secrets no one would utter in polite company, finally, and calling us to take action, finally.
.@RepAOC explains how credit bureaus profit off of consumer data: "So consumers own their data, but credit bureaus collect their data without their consent?" Equifax CEO: Yes.
.@RepAOC: "Credit scores are life altering pieces of information...1 in 5 consumers have an error on their report. If parachutes has a 1 in 5 error rating, I don’t think a lot of people would do skydiving."
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez takes aim at Equifax and credit scoring [ Hamza Shaban/Washington Post]
.@RepAOC explains how credit bureaus profit off of consumer data:— AFR (@RealBankReform) February 26, 2019
"So consumers own their data, but credit bureaus collect their data without their consent?"
Equifax CEO: Yes. pic.twitter.com/6Fs9VJl2CU
aoc,alexandria ocasio-cortez,finance,equifax,credit reporting,everybody-knows-ism mark-begor-slayer
.@RepAOC: "Credit scores are life altering pieces of information...1 in 5 consumers have an error on their report.— AFR (@RealBankReform) February 26, 2019
If parachutes has a 1 in 5 error rating, I don’t think a lot of people would do skydiving."#ProtectConsumers pic.twitter.com/fbqBE4Q35v