XPN: WHAT IS A SOFT DELETE/SUPPRESSION?

Names, Types, Descriptions, Testimony
David A. Szwak

XPN: WHAT IS A SOFT DELETE/SUPPRESSION?

Postby David A. Szwak » Thu Nov 10, 2005 9:16 pm

2 Q. Now, when I looked at the admin report, there's

3 some exclusion codes -- what I call suppression codes, the

4 EXCL. Can you tell me what the different suppression codes

5 are and what they mean?

6 A. Well, if you could point one -- some out, I do

7 know --

8 Q. Sure. On Experian 178, there's an "EXCL equal 1"

9 on several of the address items. And they also appear in

10 connection -- well, there's another exclusion code --

11 there's another "EXCL 1" -- "equal 1" on page 182.

12 A. The "EXCL equals 1" is a deletion code. It's a

13 soft deletion code. It has a monitor flag.

14 Q. When you say "a monitor flag," what does that

15 mean?

16 A. Well, that is a special procedure we put on the

17 file to ensure that that trade line or that address being

18 reported the exactly same way doesn't reappear.

19 Q. So in essence, if -- if a creditor subsequently

20 reported that address in connection with an account, it

21 would automatically suppress it by virtue of the "EXCL

22 equal 1" suppression notation?

23 A. Yes. If it was an exact duplicate.

24 Q. And it would also delete that from appearing in

25 the personal identification section of a report?





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1 A. Yes.

2 Q. Now, it would have to be that exact address,

3 correct?

4 A. Exactly.

5 Q. So if there was any deviation of that address,

6 say, instead of saying "Apartment No. 4," it said "Suite

7 4,"that might make a difference in an address as it's read

8 by the system?

9 A. Yes.

10 Q. But as it's shown there, the suppression function

11 would, for example, on page 178, as it's shown suppressing

12 a 4160 MT Highway 37, Libby, Montana, the particular ZIP.

13 If that exact address is again reported, it should be

14 suppressed from appearing in any report?

15 A. Yes, it should be.

16 Q. Would that apply across all of the different PIN

17 numbers or just this one file as we define by virtue of PIN

18 number?

19 A. I'm not -- I'm not sure on that. It should apply

20 on all the different PIN numbers, but I'm not sure that

21 that always happens.

22 Q. So you believe that a suppression function invoked

23 in one particular file would cause the suppression across

24 other files that might be merged together to form a single

25 credit report?





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1 A. Yes. I believe that happens, but it -- there are

2 times when it may not.

3 Q. Do you know if that ever occurred in this

4 particular case?

5 A. I don't know.

6 Q. Now, there are "EXCL equal 1" in connection with

7 trade lines. I gather that that particular suppression

8 function would indicate that if that particular account is

9 reported again in connection with the address that is

10 shown, that it would suppress that account?

11 A. Yes.

12 Q. Now --

13 A. If it's been reported exactly the same way.

14 Q. Okay. Is the "EXCL equal 1," when shown as a

15 suppression in connection with a trade line, does that key

16 off of the -- the address that is suppressed or does it key

17 off the trade line information?

18 A. It keys off the trade line information.

19 Q. So a moment ago, I may have misstated my question;

20 you may have agreed with me. The suppression function in

21 connection with an account would key off of the subscriber

22 name and their account number?

23 A. Yes.

24 Q. Or perhaps the subscriber code and their account

25 number?





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1 A. It keys off the exact information on -- all of the

2 information on the account.

3 Q. Now --

4 A. If there's -- and the reason why I state that is

5 because if there is any kind of derivative of that, it

6 would not always prevent the information from appearing.

7 Q. If this particular subscriber, such as shown on

8 page 182, Elan Financial STL, if they had sold that

9 particular account to another subscriber who subsequently

10 reported under their own code with the same account number,

11 it would not suppress that, would it?

12 A. No. It would not.

13 Q. And as we've been talking about, you can tell the

14 name and address which is associated with a particular

15 trade line by virtue of the name and address

16 cross-reference system shown on the admin?

17 A. If the information is there. If they're all zeros

18 there, you're not going to be able to match it up.

19 Q. I was about to ask you that. In connection with

20 the Elan Financial reporting on page 182, it seems to

21 indicate name equals 000, et cetera and A, address, equals

22 000, which seems to indicate to me it was not reported by

23 virtue of a name and address but was, in fact, reported

24 only by virtue of a social; is that correct?

25 A. That could be true.





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1 Q. Well, in this particular case, if the only

2 information that Elan Financial is reporting is a social of

3 501-52-5849, which we've discussed is not the plaintiff's

4 and not within seven of nine digits of it, do you know why

5 this particular item would ever appear in the admin report

6 of the plaintiff?

7 A. I don't know. That's a system issue, so I don't

8 know.

9 Q. Is there any other coding that you can discern for

10 me under -- or decipher for me under the Elan Financial

11 reporting that might explain why this item would appear on

12 this particular admin report?

13 A. There again, it's a system issue. I'm -- I

14 wouldn't be able to tell you that.

15 Q. Surely Experian would not match data solely on

16 name -- first name and last name, true?

17 A. There again, the matching criteria is -- is part

18 of the system logging type of thing, and I know it uses

19 different matching criteria.

20 Q. But your job and your role is in reinvestigation

21 of consumer complaints, right?

22 A. Yes.

23 Q. Have you ever seen complaints where a consumer was

24 fussing about an item appearing on his credit report, and

25 when you reinvestigated the matter, you found that the





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1 information had been placed into that report based solely

2 on a similar first and last name without any other

3 corresponding data?

4 A. I can't think in my experience if that has

5 happened, but that doesn't mean it hasn't.

***********

25 Q. It was an exclusion No. 1, which you've identified





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1 for me is a soft delete with a monitor flag?

2 A. Yes.

3 Q. There are other suppression functions shown in the

4 admin report, including "EXCL equal 2." Do you know what

5 that suppression function means?

6 A. That's a code that is sent in on an automated tape

7 by our subscriber; would indicate that it's inactive status

8 and that they have taken it off their records.

9 Q. Now, when you say it -- it's an automated tape

10 code, which means, in this case, looking at Experian 180,

11 MBNA reported two accounts -- two different account

12 numbers, and they both eventually reported a suppression

13 code of 2 by automated tape to Experian?

14 A. That's what it's indicating, yes.

15 Q. And it indicates to Experian that MBNA is telling

16 Experian that this is an inactive account?

17 A. Yes.

18 Q. True? And that it's taken off of MBNA's records?

19 A. It's taken off their records as reporting on an

20 ongoing basis. They put in exclusion code of 2 so, in case

21 the consumer, for any reason, would want to reactivate,

22 they could add it back in.

23 Q. But that does not suppress that particular

24 reporting from appearing on reports, does it?

25 A. Yes. It typically does.





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1 Q. Well, if an account is inactive and the consumer's

2 just not been using it, why would that cause Experian to

3 remove information from their credit report?

4 A. Here again, we're not causing it to be removed.

5 The creditor typically reports these on their automated

6 tape. So that means that's a code that they've put on

7 there that they still want the trade to report not to the

8 consumer, so that they can add it back at any point in time

9 if it becomes active.

10 Q. Okay. Do you know whether MBNA ever replaced this

11 data into Mr. Jensen's credit report?

12 A. I'm not aware of it, not as of 2/1 of 2000.

13 Q. The address in connection with the MBNA, is that

14 the Ridgecrest Drive, Boise, Idaho?

15 A. Let's see, I -- let's see, let me make sure this

16 is same one I'm trying to find. There's two -- yes, it is.

17 Q. So this appears -- the MBNA account appears to be

18 an actual account of the plaintiff, Mr. Jensen?

19 A. It would indicate that it is, and it also is

20 reporting, I believe, the social security number as well.

21 Q. It's got his correct name, James E. Jensen, with

22 his middle name abbreviated, it's got his social and his

23 address on Ridgecrest, Boise, Idaho?

24 A. Yes.

25 Q. You never found any indication that these other





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1 two social security numbers -- other two Jensens -- had any

2 association with Ridgecrest Drive in Boise, Idaho, did you?

3 A. No.

4 Q. The -- the other exclusion codes that we've found

5 in connection with this report, do you know what "EXCL

6 equal 3" means?

7 A. That's usually done on a internal Experian

8 inquiry.

9 Q. So this would be where Experian looks at a report,

10 and they decide internally that this item ought to be

11 suppressed?

12 A. No. It just indicates that we have viewed the --

13 or viewed and accessed the report.

14 Q. Why would that warrant a suppression code with --

15 in connection with a trade line?

16 A. Where do you see that?

17 Q. I can't readily put my finger on it.

18 A. I know I've seen it on inquiries. That's why I --

19 Q. But you believe the "EXCL equal 3" is a notation

20 in connection with an inquiry?

21 A. Inquiry, yes.

22 Q. That would suppress the inquiry from being seen by

23 someone reviewing the report externally, like the consumer

24 or creditor, but it is to suppress the Experian inquiry

25 from showing?





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1 A. Yes.

2 Q. Okay. Is there an "EXCL equal 4"?

3 A. I'd have to look through. Did you see one? I'd

4 have to look through the entire --

5 Q. I can't say that I did. I'm just trying to get an

6 idea about what other suppression codes may exist.

7 A. Offhand, I know there's several, but I don't know

8 what they are. And that's kind of a system situation.

9 Q. I did see an "EXCL equal 777." Do you know what

10 that particular code means?

11 A. I don't think it's a part of this one. I do know

12 that the 777 suppression code is for addresses that are --

13 to suppress them from coming back to file, relating to the

14 accounts that are on file as well. So if --

15 Q. So you would suppress the address with a 777

16 function, and it would knock out any accounts that reported

17 that exact address?

18 A. Yes.

19 Q. And the "EXCL equal 1" is the opposite. You could

20 place it with regard to -- let's see, you would place it,

21 and it would just suppress the entire account?

22 A. Yes.

23 Q. Now, there is an "EXCL equal 999" listed on page

24 187. Do you know what that particular code is?

25 A. Yes. That's another code -- exclusion code that





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1 is produced by the creditor on their individual tapes if,

2 for some reason, they wanted to suppress an account to do

3 some maintenance on the file.

4 Q. Okay. So exclusion 2 is just them saying, "This

5 is an inactive account, but we may want to reactivate the

6 reporting on it." The 999 suppression function is one they

7 produce by automated means to you, and it says, "We're

8 going to block this account and do maintenance on it

9 internally, and maybe we'll report it at a later time or

10 maybe not"?

11 A. Yes, that's -- that could happen.

12 Q. Are there roughly a thousand different codes or...

13 A. I have no idea. I don't think there's that many.

14 Q. I just noticed that 999 is used and there's a 123

15 used. I was curious if maybe there were a thousand

16 different codes?

17 A. I don't think so, no.

18 Q. You've never used a thousand different codes, have

19 you?

20 A. No. No.
************

25 Q. What is -- is the "SD equals 1"? Is that the soft





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1 delete notation?

2 A. Yes.
*************

David A. Szwak

Postby David A. Szwak » Sun Nov 27, 2005 8:33 pm

1
1 IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS
2 MARSHALL DIVISION
3 DIANA A. POULSON, *
Plaintiff, *
4 *
vs. * CASE NO. 2:05CV75
5 *
TRANS UNION, LLC, CSC CREDIT *
6 SERVICES, INC., EQUIFAX *
INFORMATION SERVICES, LLC, *
7 EXPERIAN INFORMATION *
SOLUTIONS, INC., DISCOVER *
8 FINANCIAL SERVICES, INC., *
USAA CREDIT CARD BANK, SEARS *
9 ROEBUCK & CO., INC. AND *
CITIBANK [USA], N.A., *
10 * JURY DEMAND
Defendants. * JUDGE DAVIS
11
12 ORAL AND VIDEOTAPED DEPOSITION OF
13 KIMBERLY KAY HUGHES
14 NOVEMBER 18, 2005
15
16 ORAL AND VIDEOTAPED DEPOSITION OF KIMBERLY
17 KAY HUGHES, produced as a witness at the instance of
18 the Plaintiff, taken in the above-styled and numbered
19 cause on the 18th day of November, 2005, from
20 10:23 a.m. to 4:28 p.m., before Frances M. Blacha, a
21 Certified Shorthand Reporter in and for the State of
22 Texas, reported by machine shorthand, in the offices of
23 Jones Day, 2727 N. Harwood Street, Dallas, Texas 75201,
24 in the City of Dallas, County of Dallas and State of Texas...
25

*****

5 Q All right. Now, that takes us logically to
6 our next step, which is the last item, Number 11, on
7 the dispute letter, Exhibit 7. I did not see a CDV or
8 ACDV pertaining to the Sears account, and I was going
9 to ask you if you might have information about what
10 happened in that dispute.
11 A Yes. She indicated that that account --
12 well, let me read it so I don't get it wrong -- that a
13 company was contacted and asked to remove her name as
14 an authorized user in 2001 and that it should read
15 individual only to her ex-husband.
16 The account was reporting a Code 3,
17 which is an authorized user, and it is Experian's
18 internal policy that if a consumer disputes an account
19 that they're not liable for the account and the company
20 is reporting them as an authorized user, Experian will
21 just remove that from the consumer's file versus
22 contacting the creditor to verify.
23 Q Does that mean that you-all will suppress the
24 account from the consumer's report or is it a deletion
25 of the account?

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1 MS. ANDREW: Objection, form.
2 A Experian's deletions are all suppressions.
3 They're soft deletes. So it would no longer display on
4 a credit report for her.
5 Q Okay. Now, that is true unless there is a
6 bypass of the suppression function; is that true?
7 MS. ANDREW: Objection, form.
8 A I'm not really aware of bypassing the
9 suppression function. In the National Consumer
10 Assistance Center when information such as this is
11 changed on a credit report, it follows the procedure of
12 being soft deleted.
13 Q Is it true that there are occasions when an
14 item is soft deleted yet it reinserts into a consumer's
15 credit report?
16 MS. ANDREW: Objection, form. It goes
17 outside the scope of this witness.
18 MR. Szwak: It's a reinvestigation
19 issue, so I want to ask her if she's aware of it in
20 reinvestigation.
21 MS. ANDREW: If the witness can answer.
22 But this really goes more toward the computer
23 technicalities, and that would be someone else, not
24 Ms. Hughes.
25 Q Do you have any knowledge of that issue?

71
1 A Well, there are occasions where information
2 is soft deleted because the company does not respond in
3 a timely manner, and they are able to come back and
4 respond after the 30 days. And Experian can then --
5 after properly notifying the consumer of reinsertion of
6 the data, can remove the soft delete and reinsert that
7 information back into the consumer's report.
8 Q So you have seen instances where, pursuant to
9 the Fair Credit Reporting Act reinsertion rule, that
10 the creditor responds late, in essence, beyond the 30
11 days allowed, but then there is a reinsertion notice
12 sent to the consumer by Experian. Is that true?
13 MS. ANDREW: Objection, form.
14 A Yes, sir.
15 Q I mean, that's part of the work you do at the
16 NCAC; is that true?
17 A Yes, sir.
18 Q Now, other than the occasions when there is a
19 manual override by Experian where you manually go in
20 and either remove a soft delete flag, have you in your
21 reinvestigation ever seen a soft delete in place on an
22 account but yet the consumer is complaining that the
23 account has been reinserted in their credit file
24 despite the existence of a soft delete flag?
25 A I have seen the occasion where the consumer

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1 is alleging that an account has reappeared, but in my
2 experience it turns out to be a different account that
3 was reported to Experian.
4 Q When you say a different account, would that
5 be a change in the account number or a change in the
6 subscriber code or a change in the date open field?
7 MS. ANDREW: Objection, form.
8 A It can be many changes. There are a lot of
9 key data elements on an account that are different when
10 a new account is reported.
11 Q I take it that you do not have any knowledge
12 about which data fields, if altered in a suppressed
13 account, will cause an account to perhaps reappear in
14 the file appearing as a different account?
15 A Specifically the mathematical formula, no, I
16 don't.
17 Q Okay. Do you have any knowledge as to
18 whether, if a lender changes an account number, if that
19 account will reinsert and bypass a suppression of the
20 same account?
21 A My understanding of that process is that it's
22 not just the account number that's looked at. You
23 have, for instance, the account number, the account
24 status, the account condition, the amount of the
25 account, the balance on the account. My understanding

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1 of that process is that all of the data elements are
2 compared by the system.
3 Q You believe that in a bypass -- in a
4 suppression bypass evaluation that all of the data
5 elements are considered? That's your general
6 understanding?
7 A Yes, that's my understanding.
8 Q Okay. All right. Now, do you believe that
9 Experian would have removed the Sears account that was
10 complained about by Ms. Poulson in Exhibit 7?
11 A Yes, sir, our records indicate that the
12 account was removed.
13 Q And what is the account number that she
14 complained about?
15 A She truncates and then, excuse me, lists
16 4825.
17 Q Are you able to identify the full account
18 number based upon the D/R log or Exhibit 6, the credit
19 report?
20 A I can discern that from the D/R log.
21 Q Okay. Could you please read us that full
22 account number just so we have it in the record,
23 please?
24 A Its 5121071811734825.
25 Q Do you believe that that account ever

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1 appeared in any of her credit reports after Experian
2 would have suppressed it as a result of the dispute in
3 Exhibit 7?
4 A I did not review any of the credit reports to
5 make a determination either way.


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