5 years ago: Puffy shirt

April 27, 2008, on this blog: Puffy shirt

The infectious jingles sung by FreeCreditReport.com’s Beck impersonator are also based on another, even more insidious lie — the notion that one’s “credit score” is a worthwhile, accurate or reliable measure of trustworthiness. Failure to make timely payments is one possible reason for a lower “score,” but so is the failure to have large amounts of disposable income. By confusing and falsely equating those two things — being untrustworthy and being poor — our current obsession with credit scoring feeds into the mythology that the poor are poor because they are less deserving, less moral, less worthy than the rest of us.

A credit score, in other words, is not just an inaccurate and misleading metric; it’s also an evil one.

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  • Fusina

    I stopped caring about credit scores when I found out they go up if you get a new credit card…and if you close a credit card account. They go up if you don’t pay your mortgage…and when you finish paying off your mortgage.

    If there is no way to win, the game is rigged in favor of the house. I learned that from a kids television show.

  • mike h

    yeah, but try to get a loan with a bad one.

  • It also works in reverse. I have excellent credit. Go ahead, sell me a house. You’ll be lucky to get a single payment, because I haven’t had an income in a couple of years.

  • You can have a bad score through no fault of your own. The reason so many credit score agencies exist is because they’re exploiting the deliberate flaws in the system: they make errors in your credit score, which you have to pay in order to see and correct.

  • reynard61

    “Nice credit score ya got there, pal. Be a *shame* if somethin’ was ta happen to it…”

  • Vermic

    I wonder how it’d go if I walked into my boss’s office and offered, for the low, low price of a $10k/year raise, to enroll the company in my premium Vermic Gold work plan, which is exactly like my normal work but with up to 70% less reckless negligence.

    “It pays for itself after just one month!” I yell as Security escorts me from the building.

  • SisterCoyote

    A few months back, I found an article – I want to say it was the NYT? – where they discussed the effects of credit scores on dating. (Maybe you linked to it here, and my memory is doing its usual impression of a sieve.)

    Basically, they talked to a bunch of people who’d had blind dates not call them back after the first date because they either didn’t know their credit score or it was too low. I sorta stared at the page in shock for a few minutes. I still haven’t found a coherent way to respond to the whole thing, because “what. …what? What the fuck?” probably doesn’t count.

    (Found it. Here. It is NYT, so beware of paywall.)

  • glendanowakowsk

    And even if your score was deemed worthy, what would happen if, a few months or years down the line, you were diagnosed with cancer or some chronic illness?Would this person be there for you? After all, such things can be financially devastating, even if you have insurance.

  • I see the problem when marriage is involved; when you marry someone you do sort of marry their credit score. But that’s a problem with an easy workaround: Just don’t get married! Unless there’s property or other financial concerns I hardly see the point.

  • SisterCoyote

    Well, yeah – I would definitely understand, given that it’s the system we live under, morally agree or not. I’d be perfectly fine with holding off on marriage until either the system improves or my standing under it does. (I don’t know my credit score, but as a college student who just left a job to transfer schools, I’m going to assume the worst.) I have Issues about financial dependency anyway, I certainly don’t want to both be financially dependent on someone and dragging their financial-system-standing-wossname down. But the idea that you could love someone, but decide not to date them because of their credit score… it’s just completely foreign to me.

    (I only just remembered that this was a thing that happened in Sandman, too. Weird.)

  • The technical term for this is “dodging a bullet.” The bullet in this case is being in a relationship with someone who is so shallow that he or she rejects potential suitors based on their credit score.

  • Was it? I don’t remember that bit. Which arc? It sounds like something that would have come up in “A Game of You”.

  • Jamoche

    I know my score – buy a car, they’ll tell you, even if no financing happens – but if I had a blind date ask me I’d say I didn’t know and then *I’d* not call *them* back.

    (BTW, the NYT 10-article/month limit is entirely enforced by Javascript. Which is an optional thing in most browsers…)

  • SisterCoyote

    If I recall, it was an aside in Brief Lives – an aside in Ruby’s inner monologue while mulling over the conversations of Dream and Delirium.

    And that is just a little bit terrifying.

  • SisterCoyote

    That would explain why it hasn’t been working since I picked up NoScript, then… *feels vaguely guilty* I’ll have to pick up a subscription or something when I’m not broke.