Who is Innovis?

Types, Names, Descriptions, Testimony
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David A. Szwak
Posts: 4126
Joined: Tue Jul 26, 2005 4:15 am

Who is Innovis?

Post by David A. Szwak »

Innovis - Secret Credit Bureau Report
POSTED: 10:15 p.m. PST January 15, 2003
UPDATED: 4:00 p.m. PST January 20, 2003

Innovis is a secret credit bureau sells your credit information to companies that compile mailing lists for unsolicited mail, including charge cards. Negative information on your Innovis report could prevent you from getting favorable credit offers. The information isn't always correct. Some people have complained to the Better Business Bureau about mistakes on their Innovis report.

Innovis declined an on-camera interview with NBC11 but issued the following statement:

"Innovis is not involved in providing services that can result in the denial of applications for credit, insurance or employment."

The company claims its only product, "Failsafe", tells marketers about customers who are credit risks. When asked if they planned to expand their services, or if they shared information with other credit agencies the company gave no reply.

You can find out about your Innovis credit report by calling 1-800-457-0247.

Innovis-CBC on the horizon

Lately we have been receiving a lot of email asking if we knew anything about a bureau called Innovis. I had only recently heard of them through a press release at Equifax's corporate site. I was only browsing the press release about new privacy rights afforded to consumers' when I came across the paragraph that mentioned Innovis. Shocked, I started to search the web trying to find out more. I found http://www.innovis.com which I am now posting here.

As if consumers' did not have enough trouble with the big three, now there is a fourth. No one speaks of them and consumers rarely know about it. When will this fourth bureau be acting like the other three? The company appears to be a B2B not B2C business (sells to businesses not consumers) but nonetheless I have a right to protect my privacy, be removed from these lists and certainly to know who is keeping a default list on me and whether or not it's accurate. So, the story goes- Here we go again to fight yet another bureau- Bet the others are happy for the break.

Why do we have a fourth now and how does that affect consumers?
Will there be a fourth one that we have to communicate with in order to correct errors in credit reports? Worst of all, the company appears to sell information about us to lenders with a mailing list program and a fail-safe delinquency list. Additionally you find numerous websites now referring to the 'four bureaus" therefore everyone has accepted that Innovis is a repository. In a few news articles via the web, we found the same tone throughout which was that Innovis is fairly new and when asked why they do not post information on their website about consumers gaining access to their files, they were told by Innovis that the company is still building its databases and is basically not ready. Ready enough to do business heh?

Here's what we have found to date regarding this company. (Links may expire over time)

Secret Credit Bureau May Be Violating Consumer's Rights
Innovis - Secret Credit Bureau Report
A reply letter from someone claiming to be an Innovis employee
The credit report you don't know about By Holden Lewis • Bankrate.com
The Latest on Your New Rights to Privacy... Our Answers to Your Questions: FDIC
Credit Agency Giving Consumers Something Else To Worry About- Innovis Can Hinder Ability To Get Good Offers
If you want your name and address removed from all mailing lists offered by the credit-reporting agencies: Trans Union, Experian, Equifax and INNOVIS, call 888-5OPTOUT (888-567-8688).

From the company's web site: Innovis offers unique products to the market place, such as fail-safe and New Movers. These products provide an opportunity for preapproved solicitations. The products are continually updated to provide fresh, responsive names targeted to your needs. Innovis is a required credit repository for reporting purposes to those who are Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac servicers. For credit applications, disclosures or disputes of your credit report, contact your local Credit Bureau.

failSafe: A national database of consumers with unfavorable current or past credit histories.

New Movers: A list of consumers who have reported a change of address.

From their "About us" page ( and keep up it gets tricky!)
ACB Services was founded in 1970 by Associated Credit Bureaus (ACB). ACB Services was created to provide consumer credit information to member firms. ACB Services' data was gathered from national and regional credit grantors. In 1989 the company was purchased and renamed Consumers Credit Associates (CCA). Responding to requests from credit grantors for innovative solutions and enhanced services in the consumer credit industry, CCA worked to create unique products and services. Concurrently, the company began to gain commitments from major credit grantors to contribute data. In 1997, First Data Corporation purchased CCA and further developed CCA's systems and programs. In October 1998, First Data Corporation renamed this division Innovis Data Solutions, Inc. In April of 1999, CBC Companies purchased Innovis Inc. from First Data Corporation. CBC Companies has been providing consumer credit information through its credit bureau organization for over 50 years. As an affiliate of CBC Companies, Innovis will continue to develop unique tools for credit decisioning and risk management. An Affiliation of: © 1996-2001, CBC Companies


Here are the addresses we have gathered thus far on Innovis. It's interesting to note that as of December 2,2002 we could no longer find their address or phone number on their 'about us" page. Update: As of June 2003 Innovis has added a contact page. The information is below on how to get your report from Innovis.

Innovis Data Solutions
Post Office Box 219297
Houston, TX 77218-9297

Innovis Data Solutions
950 Threadneedle Street, Suite 200
Houston, TX 77079-2903

Innovis, Data Management Services,
P.O. Box 218400,
Houston, Texas 77218-8400,
(281) 504-2600

Innovis Data Solutions,
1691 NW Professional Plaza,
Columbus, OH. 43220

To request a copy of your credit report we ask that you make your request in writing. Please include your:

Full Name
Current Address (along with a copy of your driver's license or utility bill showing your current address) Previous addresses for the past 2 years
Social Security Number
Date of Birth
Current Employer
Phone Number

Please send a check or money order to Innovis Consumer Assistance in the amount indicated for your state.

California $8.00
Connecticut $5.00
Maine $2.00
Minnesota $3.00
Montana $8.50
All other States $9.00

Residents of the following states are entitled to one or more free credit report(s).

New Jersey

Please mail your request to:
Innovis Consumer Assistance
P.O. Box 1358
Columbus, OH 43216-1358

For Immediate Release: Contact: Kristy Welsh
480 990 3938
7904 E. Chaparral Rd
Suite 110-604
Scottsdale, AZ 85250

Secret Credit Bureau May Be Violating Consumer's Rights
Scottsdale, Arizona - Innovis, a new credit reporting agency (CRA) shares information only under duress with consumers. CRAs keep consumer profiles which contain a person's entire payment history, and this history is used to determine the hit to a consumer's wallet when shopping credit cards, mortgage rates and insurance premiums. In addition, "the ability to gain employment may be hindered by a poor credit report", says Kristy Welsh, editor of Creditinfocenter.com, and author of "Good Credit is Sexy", "so easy access to one's credit information is vital, especially with the job market so tight."

CRAs such as Experian, Equifax and Trans Union are well known within the industry and consumers have a relatively easy time obtaining access to their credit reports from these companies. Several of creditinfocenter.com's readers report that is was like pulling teeth to get a copy of their Innovis report, while others reported to her that the company had said they didn't give out credit reports as, "their database was being updated." Welsh has read other accounts of people who had to write threatening letters to the company or verbally point out that refusal to give out the information was in violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Many others wrote to her to ask her how to contact Innovis, as the company address is not posted on their website (http://www.innovis-cbc.com).

"Barriers to accessing consumer credit reports borders are illegal and should be brought to the attention of the FTC immediately", Welsh asserts. Even credit-savvy consumers are unaware of this forth CRA, ignorance of which could provide a nasty surprise in the future. With rising incidents of identity theft, victims of this crime may have to relive the credit-cleansing horror with Innovis should all lenders start to use this database as a matter of route. One reader told Welsh that her credit union had pulled Innovis while applying for a car loan, so this practise may be coming sooner than consumers think.

Innovis, owned by CBC Companies, is already referred to as the 4th credit bureau by many financial institutions. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two biggest buyers of home mortgages in the United States have recently begin requiring mortgage companies to report 90 day late to Innovis.

Welsh is urging consumers to complain about Innovic to the FTC. An online complaint form is available at: http://www.ftc.gov. Consumers wishing to contact Innovis:

Innovis Data Solutions
Post Office Box 219297
Houston, TX 77218-9297

Update (Jul 8 2003) We got a letter from an Innovis Rep.
David A. Szwak
Posts: 4126
Joined: Tue Jul 26, 2005 4:15 am

Post by David A. Szwak »

David Lazarus
Burden to be better is on new credit bureau
David Lazarus
Sunday, October 16, 2005

For the past five years, a company called Innovis Data Solutions has been quietly collecting reams of consumer info from a variety of lenders.

Sometime next year, the company says, it will begin using its vast database to compile and market credit reports on millions of people -- whether they want Innovis to or not.

This will make Innovis the fourth major player in the growing world of national credit reporting agencies, joining Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.

These are the companies that keep track of people's credit histories and can make or break a loan application. They're also the ones that make you jump through bureaucratic hoops if your identity is stolen or you're a victim of fraud.

"We believe there is certainly room for a fourth credit reporting agency," Ruvan Cohen, Innovis' newly appointed president, told me. "This is particularly true because we'll be utilizing up-to-date technology."

Consumer advocates are taking a wait-and-see attitude. But they already have worries.

"A fourth credit bureau may just add extra headaches for consumers trying to correct errors," said Chris Hoofnagle, who runs the West Coast office of the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

Ed Mierzwinski, consumer program director for Washington's U.S. Public Interest Research Group, was even more skeptical.

"There's room in the marketplace for a consumer-friendly credit bureau," he said. "Innovis probably isn't that bureau."

Mierzwinski based this assessment on privately held Innovis' track record for less-than-transparent operations and its seeming desire to keep consumers at arm's length.

For example, check out the company's Web site at innovis.com. It's hard to imagine a more minimalist public face for a company that's busy amassing records on virtually all U.S. consumers.

The site offers a few paragraphs outlining the various corporate parents Innovis has had over the years, but says nothing of its ambitious agenda. It says only that "Innovis will continue to develop unique tools for credit decisioning and risk management."

Similarly, the site's privacy policy is just four sentences long and focuses only on information gleaned from visitors' Internet addresses. It says nothing about how the company uses -- or plans to use -- other data.

A link for "consumer assistance" merely says that you can mail in a check ($8 for California residents) if you want a copy of whatever Innovis currently knows about you. (You have to provide your name, address, phone number, date of birth, employer and Social Security number.)

The mailing address is a post office box in Columbus, Ohio. A toll-free number on the site gets you nowhere near a human being. No e-mail address is offered.

Compare this with the Web sites of Experian, Equifax and TransUnion, which bristle with information about each company's products and services, and include all manner of contact info.

"It's really unclear from Innovis' Web site what this company does or how they do it," said Hoofnagle at the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

Innovis' Cohen responded that the site is a work in progress.

"Right now, no consumer is being adversely impacted by Innovis," he said. "It's not a question of us being secretive. We're just trying to be as conservative as possible given where we stand in terms of development."

When Innovis finally has its data -- rather, our data -- in order, Cohen said, the company will revamp its Web site and make it easier for consumers to get in touch.

"We will have complete transparency for consumers as soon as it becomes relevant for them," he said.

Some might say that it's already relevant, considering that Innovis' database is already taking shape and that the company is already promoting its credit reports to lenders.

As it stands, the credit reporting agencies don't have an immaculate record when it comes to data security and customer relations.

In June, the Canadian subsidiary of Equifax reported that the credit files of hundreds of consumers had been accessed by computer hackers. This followed a similar incident involving the files of about 1,400 people last year.

In August, Experian settled charges brought by the Federal Trade Commission that it misled consumers by offering a free credit report but instead enrolled them in costly credit monitoring services. The company paid $950,000 for what the FTC called "ill-gotten gains."

Cohen said he understands that incidents such as these have made consumers more concerned about data-security and privacy issues.

"We have a dedication as a company to be a leader in information security and information privacy," he said.

At the moment, consumers will have to take Cohen's word for that. Transparency is still very much an issue. For example, Cohen declined to say where Innovis is getting its data.

All he'd acknowledge is that "there are a lot of major lenders providing us with information."

Does that make you uncomfortable? Considering the dozens of major privacy violations reported in recent months, from ChoicePoint to LexisNexis, it should.

On the other hand, Cohen is correct when he says Innovis' database, because of its newness, will likely be more technologically sophisticated than those of rival firms.

Mierzwinski at U.S. PIRG said he'll try to keep an open mind. But the onus is on Innovis to prove that it's different from the other credit bureaus.

"They'll probably make all the same mistakes as the others and contribute to identity theft," he said. "But hopefully that won't be the case."

David Lazarus' column appears Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Send tips or feedback to dlazarus@sfchronicle.com.
David A. Szwak
Posts: 4126
Joined: Tue Jul 26, 2005 4:15 am

Post by David A. Szwak »

The credit report you don't know about
By Holden Lewis • Bankrate.com

For many years, there were three national credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Add a fourth to the list: Innovis Data Solutions.

Unlike the Big Three credit bureaus, Innovis doesn't sell consumers' credit histories to lenders, insurers and potential employers. Innovis specializes in helping creditors compile mailing lists. Adverse information on your Innovis credit report, accurate or not, could prevent you from getting favorable credit offers in the mail. Whether you think that's a good thing or a bad thing is up to you.

Innovis became a major player at the beginning of 2001, when mortgage financing titans Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac began requiring their mortgage servicers to report borrowers' payment histories to the Houston-based credit repository. Fannie Mae requires servicers to notify Innovis of delinquencies and foreclosures; Freddie Mac requires servicers to tell Innovis about every borrower's payment status, current or late.

The federal government reports to Innovis about individuals who are late with debt payments to the feds.

Innovis offers two products to creditors. FailSafe is a database containing names of consumers who are late or who have been late on debt payments.

"You can cleanse your pre-approved mailing lists before offers are printed and mailed," reducing cost and risk, Innovis's Web site boasts. "One last screening against FailSafe will safely eliminate the undesirable names prior to your mail date."

The other product, called New Movers, is a monthly list of people who have reported a change of address. If you got a torrent of unsolicited commercial mail after your most recent move, it is because of lists such as New Movers.

Ask consumer advocates and privacy experts what they know about Innovis, and they'll tell you that they have heard of it and are curious about the company, but don't know much about it. Innovis is an affiliate of CBC Companies, a closely held business based in Columbus, Ohio, that operates a network of local credit bureaus, runs a nationwide collection agency, and screens employees for other businesses.

CBC executive Jonathan Price declined to comment about the company. He said he might be willing to answer questions after the first of the year, but that he won't have anything new to announce then.

The Innovis Web site does not provide an address for consumers to request a copy of their Innovis credit report. Instead, it advises consumes to "contact your local Credit Bureau." Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, consumers should be able to request copies of their credit reports from Innovis and to dispute any mistakes they find in it.

When Greg Fisher, author of The Credit Scoring Site, sought the address for consumers to request their Innovis credit files, Price told him it was: PO Box 219297, Houston, TX, 77218-99297.

The Consumer Data Industry Association, the Washington-based lobbying arm for the credit bureau industry, refers to "four reporting systems" and "the four national repositories." But on the organization's Web page that tells consumers where to write to get their credit reports, it lists only Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Innovis is absent.

Last summer, art student Edward Kulzer discovered that he had "a few very detrimental and baseless errors" in his credit report. He easily found contact information for Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, and ordered his credit reports from those three companies. All contained inaccuracies, he says.

Kulzer e-mails: "As my search for knowledge and resolution to my situation trickled on, though, I found clues and hidden whispers of a fourth credit bureau -- very secretive, very tough to deal with, very destructive behind the scenes. The hints and subtle allegations painted a completely Orwellian scenario." The limited information he had about Innovis "appealed to the James Bond side of me."

So he found Innovis's address and ordered a credit file. He says Innovis sent it quicker than the other three credit bureaus. More important, his Innovis file was accurate. No errors.

"So," Kulzer concludes, "the Innovis chapter of my fight for financial justice opened and shut with but a whisper."

-- Posted: Nov. 14, 2002
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