John Oliver Trolls Error-Prone Credit Bureaus With Horrible, Sound-Alike Companies

The three major credit reporting agencies — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — receive more complaints from consumers than most banks, primarily because these reports frequently contain errors and they make it incredibly difficult to resolve disputes. The credit industry seems to think its mistakes are within acceptable standards, but will they feel the same way when their brand names are facing similar odds for a disastrous mistake?

On Last Week Tonight, Oliver noted the Federal Trade Commission report that found at least one material error in more than 25% of credit reports it looked at, while 5% of reports had errors resulting in a credit score swing of at least 25 points.

To Oliver, that is an unacceptable level of mistakes that wouldn’t be tolerated in other fields.

“If every twentieth Frosty that Wendy’s sold turned out to be a cup of warm goat semen, we would want some accountability and we’d want it fast,” he explained. “At least freeze it!”

In response to that FTC report, credit industry trade group the Consumer Data Industry Association put out a statement titled “FTC Report Confirms Credit Reports Are Accurate,” touting its 95% success rate.

“They’re basically saying, ‘Great news everyone! We only f*cked up a group equivalent to the entire population of Sweden,” said Oliver.

To test the industry’s tolerance for that margin of error, Last Week Tonight created a trio of truly horrible companies — completely unrelated to the credit industry — that just happen to have names that are “problematically similar” to the three major bureaus:

equifacksEquifacks: “A company that takes an animal from a shelter that needs a good home, lets it come to your house to lick peanut butter off people’s genitals, and then immediately returns it to the shelter… Please do not mistake us for Equifax. Those f*ckers are evil.”




Experianne: “A company that specializes in whispering passages from Mein Kampf into the ears of babies, without the permission of parents or the babies themselves… Please do not mistake us for Experian. What they do is unforgivable.”



TramsOnion: “A company whose only business is selling steaks made out of dead orcas from SeaWorld!… We are not affiliated with TransUnion. We are not monsters.”

“It would clearly be an absolute disaster for the credit agencies if they were mistaken for any of these companies,” noted Oliver. “But don’t worry, I’m sure that won’t happen… 95% of the time.”

Oliver also questioned the validity of using credit reports as a way to judge a job applicant.

He notes that TransUnion’s website declares that an employment credit report can “help make decisions quickly and easily when deciding on potential candidates,” but in 2010 a TransUnion executive testified before lawmakers in Oregon that “we don’t have any research to show any statistical correlation between what’s in somebody’s credit report and their job performance or their likelihood to commit fraud.”

Yet, as Oliver points out, only seconds later, that same Transunion exec put forth the claim that “all things equal, between two or three job applicants — a person who has a high amount of debt versus somebody who doesn’t — well, maybe they want to consider [credit].”

“He’s saying there’s no proof of a correlation, but you’re free to imagine there is,” says Oliver. “Which is not a strong argument. I could imagine that eating alphabet soup will increase my vocabulary, but that does not make it indubitable.”

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