Debt collectors pull credit reports to see what other debts you owe which gives them a good deal of information about you but they can also review your current and past work history over several years.
Have you ever heard of the Work Number database? It is huge and extensive and contains work history information, past and present. Consumer employment information in the database includes the amount of your last paycheck, overtime and whether you’ve ever filed for employment insurance. Yet, most consumers have never heard of the Work Number database.
How it Works
The Work Number database provides employment verification through a fully automated system and is used by many major employers. There was a time when employers had to call a human resource department to verify employment.
Now, if an employer pays a fee, they can gain access to an automated, 24 hour a day database. That database can verify not only employment history but also salary, whether or not you have filed unemployment claims and your health insurance provider.
Who Owns the Database
Equifax credit reporting agency owns the Work Number database and with the help of thousands of human resource departments, they have assembled a massive private database of consumers’ personal information, covering 190 million employment and salary records.
Companies supply Equifax with weekly salary and employment information; and, in some cases, the companies allow the Work Number database to connect directly into their human resources database.
Problems with the Database
One major problem with the Work Number database is very few consumers even know it exists. Extremely sensitive and what should be private information can be accessed about consumers without their knowledge or permission. This leads to the next major issue with the database; and that is a credit reporting agency, Equifax, owns it.
Credit bureaus are in the business of selling information about consumers, and this is how debt collectors gain such a great deal of information about you. Debt collectors purchase the information contained in the database when pursuing a consumer for a debt. They can speak with confidence because while they may have little information about the debt, they have plenty of information about you.
Aside from debt collectors being able to purchase your employment information, Equifax markets and sells work history along with current and past salary to the following the industries:
- Credit Card and Consumer Finance
- Pre-Employment Screening
- Accounts Receivable
- Property Management
- Social Security Administration
- Child Support Enforcement
Equifax can combine your credit information and your salary information to market it to businesses offering financial and other products. Suppose you get a raise or salary increase, there is nothing to keep Equifax from selling that information to a bank, credit card issuer, mortgage company, auto dealer or retailer so they can market you high-end products.
The Work Number database gives debt collectors access to employer information that may not be included on a consumer’s credit report. Now you know how a debt collector obtained your work number.
If a debt collector calls you at work the FDCPA says you can request they not call your employer because it is inconvenient or your employer does not allow personal calls. It is best to put a request for a debt collector to cease calling you at work in writing.
Debt collectors who continue to harass you at your employment are in violation of the FDCPA and should be reported to the FTC in addition to your State’s Attorney General. Consumers can also sue for violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
Get Your Work Number Database Report
Consumers have some protections as the Work Number is considered a credit report. In fact, you are entitled to a free Work Number report once every 12 months just like you are entitled to your credit report. The Work Number database is considered a consumer reporting agency and must comply with the FCRA. Go to TheWorkNumber.com and fill out the form.
Find out what information they have on your work and salary history. Just like with credit reports, mistakes and errors can exist and you may need to make corrections.