Mixed Files:Follow the Control Issue:Experian

Father-Son, Mother-Daughter, Junior-Senior-Trey [Generational Designators], Common Names, Variations on Social Security Numbers and Other Mixed File Issues
David A. Szwak

Mixed Files:Follow the Control Issue:Experian

Postby David A. Szwak » Mon Nov 14, 2005 7:23 pm

1
1 IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS
2 SHERMAN DIVISION
3 JAMES E. JENSEN, *
*
4 Plaintiff, *
* CIVIL ACTION
5 VS. * NO. 00-CV-0040
*
6 EXPERIAN INFORMATION SOLUTIONS, INC.*
*
7 Defendant. *
8
9 *********************************************************
10 ORAL AND VIDEOTAPED DEPOSITION OF CAROLYN HELM
11 AUGUST 16, 2000
12 VOLUME 1
13 *********************************************************
14
15
16 ANSWERS AND DEPOSITION OF CAROLYN HELM, produced as a
17 witness duly sworn by me at the instance of the Plaintiff,
18 taken in the above-styled and -numbered cause on the 16th
19 day of August, 2000, A.D., beginning at 9:54 a.m. to 2:29
20 p.m., before LISA C. HUNDT, a Certified Shorthand Reporter
21 in and for the State of Texas, reported by machine
22 shorthand, in the offices of Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue,
23 located at 2727 North Harwood, Dallas, Texas, in accordance
24 with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the
25 agreements hereinafter set forth.

**************

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9 Q. So if I understand correctly, before it triggers a
10 reinvestigation at Experian, there must be a consumer
11 dispute by someone who is affected?
12 A. Yes, consumers.
13 Q. Experian would not take it upon itself to
14 determine whether or not there are merged files within its
15 system?
16 A. That's true.

17 Q. So once a consumer determines that their file
18 contains inaccurate information, it is incumbent upon them
19 to contact Experian and raise some dispute about the
20 accuracy of the information?
21 A. Yes. We have --
22 Q. That's the policy and procedure and the position
23 of Experian?
24 A. Yes. We have, already, checks and balances in
25 place to try to prevent the mixed files.
So if one does

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1 occur, we are relying on the consumer to give us that.
2 Q. Do you know whether it has ever been suggested
3 that the inquiry format provided to the subscribers
4 contributes to the mixed file problem?
5 A. Yes.

6 Q. Who have you heard that from?
7 A. Well, I believe that there has been changes over
8 the years to request that subscribers use full
9 identification information.
10 Q. To request?
11 A. Yes.

12 Q. But it is not required?
13 A. There are certain fields -- over the years, those
14 fields have grown from name and address to name and address
15 and social. And it's -- it's a field that we strongly
16 encourage but do not always require because creditors don't
17 always have all of the information
. Consumers don't always
18 like to give all of their information
.
19 Q. But you would agree with me that Experian solely
20 controls the requirements of the inquiry input fields?
21 A. I don't -- I don't know if I would agree with that
22 statement.

23 Q. Tell me what you would not agree with about that
24 statement.
25 A. I would agree that -- I would restate it. I would

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1 say that Experian requests and indicates to its subscribers
2 how important the information is -- the identification
3 information is in retrieving an accurate file. It's to the
4 best interest of both of us to make sure that the creditor
5 has the most accurate file as well.
6 In dealing with consumers, they are at times reluctant
7 to give their social security numbers when applying for
8 credit. And if they don't have it, then they'll go with
9 what they have.
10 Q. But would you agree with me -- my question was:
11 Would you agree with me that Experian has the sole control
12 over requiring -- in essence, forcing the creditor to use
13 complete information in the inquiry format?
14 A. We would have control over whether that subscriber
15 was a member of our system.

16 Q. You have control over who becomes a subscriber --
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. -- true, but you also have the sole control over
19 how the information is accessed by -- in terms of which
20 inquiry input fields are required to be entered before you
21 will return a file?
22 A. Yes. Well, I guess I would agree with that in
23 that we could -- if somebody just put name and address and
24 we refused to allow the file to be entered with just name
25 and address, we could put something in our system to do

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1 that.

2 Q. I guess what I'm getting to is: Experian decides
3 who they allow to become a subscriber?
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. And you have the sole control over who gains
6 access to your system?
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. You have security procedures and security programs
9 in place to prevent hackers, for example?
10 A. Yes. I'm sure we do.
11 Q. You have ability to keep businesses that you don't
12 want to do business with, maybe -- whether it be lawyers or
13 car dealerships or private investigators, you can keep them
14 out of your system?
15 A. Security risks, yes.
16 Q. Okay. And there are certain elements of the
17 business community that you really don't want as
18 subscribers, either because they're more prone to misuse
19 information or maybe report inaccurate information, right?
20 A. Well, there again, I'm not privy to all the
21 subscriber rules and regulations, but I would say yes.

22 Q. Okay. Now, if you can decide who reports
23 information to you as subscribers, and you can decide who
24 accesses your system, then the buck stops with Experian in
25 terms of who has access to your system and how they access

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1 it, right?
2 A. In a way, because I want to be sure that you're
3 clear on, for instance, Sears. Sears may know that the
4 best access is with all identifying information. But if
5 the consumer doesn't give it, they'll go with what they
6 need to have to access our database.

7 Q. But that is their choice?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. And that is your choice to permit them to use less
10 than full information?
11 A. Yes. Okay.
12 Q. Okay. Now, you also, at Experian, have the sole
13 discretion about what information is required when
14 consumers -- when reports are made about consumers?
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. You have the ability to decide whether to accept
17 or reject data, depending upon the identifying information
18 associated with it, right?
19 A. There are checks and balances in the system, but
20 that's kind of all I know about the system area as far as
21 expertise.

22 Q. Well, I guess I'm asking in a more generic
23 fashion. If you had a subscriber who wanted to report to
24 you about consumers using only a name -- no address, no
25 social; they're just going to list a string of names with

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1 certain information in connection with the names --
2 Experian has the decision whether or not to accept that
3 data and post it to its database, right?
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. So there's no legal requirement that you know of
6 that says you must accept data from this subscriber?
7 A. That's true.
8 Q. And there's no legal requirement that says you
9 must permit this car dealership or this lawyer or this
10 private investigator to have access to your database?
11 A. That's true.
12 Q. So ultimately, the control over what goes into the
13 database and what comes out of the database lies solely
14 with Experian?
15 A. In that respect, I'd say yes.
16 Q. Okay. In connection with this lawsuit, one of the
17 allegations by Experian is that the information that
18 Experian reported to third persons about Mr. Jensen, the
19 plaintiff, was accurate and true. Do you agree with that
20 or disagree with that?
21 A. I believe that, per our database, we have now
22 found it through investigative procedures to find that the
23 information was not accurate.

24 Q. Would you agree that the information that was
25 inaccurate, the wrong information, also had a derogatory

96
1 status and rating associated with it?
2 A. There were some accounts that did, yes.
3 Q. And did you find that any of Mr. Jensen's accurate
4 information -- the accounts that are truly associated with
5 him -- did you find that he failed to meet his commitments
6 to those creditors as reported to you by the creditors?
7 A. I'd have to review a report because I -- I don't
8 remember exactly if all of them were absolutely perfect
9 credit.

10 Q. Do you remember seeing anything negative about
11 Mr. Jensen that was truly his?
12 A. I'd have to review it.
13 Q. Well, let's take a few minutes and do that --
14 A. Sure.
15 Q. -- because I'd kind of like to get an idea, from
16 your standpoint, if you see anything in the admin report
17 that you can say is Mr. Jensen's that is derogatory in any
18 way.
19 A. Okay.
20 MR. Szwak: Let's go off the record for a few
21 minutes.
22 THE VIDEOGRAPHER: We're off the record at
23 12:21.
24 (Off the record.)
25 THE VIDEOGRAPHER: On the record at 12:23.

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1 A. (Continuing.) Okay. Based on this particular
2 admin report, there are still some unsuppressed delinquent
3 accounts. I do believe that we have done a subsequent
4 investigation, and those were removed as well. So I --
5 Q. (BY MR. Szwak) And that's subsequent to the
6 February 1, 2000, report?
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. Based upon your review, do you find any -- any
9 reported failure to meet his obligations by the plaintiff?
10 A. No.
[/u]

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