Many people don’t know that Equifax is the oldest credit reporting agency in the country[credit dispute].They were founded back in 1898, 70 years before the formation of TransUnion.
Two brothers, Cator and Guy Woolford, created the company. Cator actually got the idea from his grocery business, where he collected customers’ names and evidence of credit worthiness. He then sold his list to other grocers and retail stores to offset his own business costs.
The success of hiscredit list ledCator and his attorney brother, Guy, to Atlanta, where they set up what would become one of the most powerful industries in existence today.
The Retail Credit Company was born, and local grocers quickly started using the Woolford service, which expanded rapidly. By the early 1900s the service had expanded from grocers and retail stores to the insurance industry.
The Retail Credit Company continued to grow into one of the largest credit bureaus. By the 1960s it had nearly 300 branches in operationand was beginning to compile its data onto computers, giving many more companies access to this data—if they chose to purchase it.
They collected all kinds of consumer data;details about people including their marital troubles, jobs, school history, childhood, sex life, political activity and more. There was no limit to the kind or amount of data they were collecting, and they were scrutinized for selling this data to just about anyone who would buy it.
Some of the information was factual, while much of it was completely false—some was no more substantial than rumors!Equifax was even said to reward their employees for finding the most negative information about consumers.
In response, when the US Congress met in 1971 it enacted the Fair Credit Reporting Act. This new law was the first to govern the information credit bureaus and regulate what they were allowed to collect and sell.
Equifax was no longer allowed to misrepresent itself when conducting consumer investigations and employees were no longer given bonuses on the basis of the negative information they were collecting, a standard practice in the past.
Equifax has a very interesting history. Most notably, they were the first bureau to gather credit data. And, their tactics for gathering data in large part led to the actual creation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act itself.