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Privacy Businesses Your Rights Online

HR Departments Tell Equifax Your Entire Salary History 472

chiguy writes with this snippet From NBC News: "The Equifax credit reporting agency, with the aid of thousands of human resource departments around the country, has assembled...[a database]...containing 190 million employment and salary records covering more than one-third of U.S. adults...[Equifax] says [it] is adding 12 million records annually.' This salary information is for sale: "Its database is so detailed that it contains week-by-week paystub information dating back years for many individuals, as well as ... health care provider, whether someone has dental insurance and if they've ever filed an unemployment claim.""
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HR Departments Tell Equifax Your Entire Salary History

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  • Privacy And Sin (Score:5, Insightful)

    by smittyoneeach ( 243267 ) * on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @10:25AM (#42796195) Homepage Journal
    Privacy and sin,
    Like skin on the chin,
    Covered by hair,
    Nicked by tech #FTW
    Burma Shave

    This is an important story, beyond the troll.
    A political party supporting liberty, where that is defined in part as the right to own all data pertaining to yourself, would see a great deal of support.
    And we can expect any of our entrenched parties to support liberty in 3. . .2. . .
  • Great! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by HeckRuler ( 1369601 ) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @10:31AM (#42796243)
    How soon can I browse the salary history of CEO's, Congressmen, the chairmen of the FED, the leaders of Scientology, and the lobbyists on capitol hill?
    • Re:Great! (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @10:35AM (#42796269)
      As soon as some group breaches Equifax's system? I'd imagine that this will happen shortly as long as this story gets enough publicity.
    • Re:Great! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by greg1104 ( 461138 ) <> on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @10:37AM (#42796289) Homepage

      The minute you can pull data from every offshore bank account.

      • Re:Great! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by HeckRuler ( 1369601 ) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @11:52AM (#42797163)
        This one. This right here. All of our income is from our salary, but what they report is not their income. The ones who run the game don't play by the same rules as us.
        • Re:Great! (Score:4, Funny)

          by tompaulco ( 629533 ) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @02:06PM (#42799203) Homepage Journal
          This one. This right here. All of our income is from our salary, but what they report is not their income. The ones who run the game don't play by the same rules as us.
          "Ah, I see you are the CEO of a fortune 500 company. Let's see here. It says your salary is $1. Sorry sir, I'm afraid we can't grant you a loan. Or do you have some other sources of income you would like to report?"
          • BWWAAHAHAHAAaaahahahahaaaaa! He thinks fortune 500 CEOs need to get loans!

            Oh, god no son. Where have you been? If they really want something big, like corporate big, they get their corporation to buy it. Or they make a corporation on paper, funnel some money to it in various ways, and have the corporation take out the loan based on those assets, not their own. Or they don't funnel money to the corporation, but set up a loan based on the assets they're about to buy with said loan. Or, much like the lowly wor

    • Re:Great! (Score:5, Informative)

      by afidel ( 530433 ) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @10:43AM (#42796345)

      CEO (along with other senior executives) compensation (much more than just pay) has been public for some time, check out your companies 10Q filing (does not apply to private companies).

    • You can already browse state employee salaries for many states. New York is []

    • Re:Great! (Score:5, Informative)

      by foobsr ( 693224 ) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @11:32AM (#42796951) Homepage Journal
      Probably a move to Scandinavia would help.

      Quote:"Every year, Sweden publishes everyone's income tax returns. So do Finland and Norway. And nobody really cares." ( [] )

      Not quite the same, but still.


      • Re:Great! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by mapsjanhere ( 1130359 ) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @11:39AM (#42797031)
        That's because rich people there have better things to do than to run for public office. And politicians are viewed with suspicion if they do not depend on their salary to live on. You need to show a reasonable income to show "I'm one of you". Unlike the US where "I made it rich" is seen as a sign of potential for POTUS, but you don't want to show that you made it rich by gaming the system.
  • by Atrox Canis ( 1266568 ) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @10:34AM (#42796267)
    After spending over a year on a mission to get my credit report "fixed", I have a number of anecdotal stories regarding the inherent inaccuracy of the reporting that goes into these databases. My credit reports were not that bad but after a review of the report from the top three agencies, I discovered dozens of factually inaccurate items ranging from wrong addresses to poorly formatted history items. My reports contained input from companies I had never done business with and companies that no longer existed. The problem with this is that if they can't be trusted to confirm the proper spelling of your name, how can they be the "authoritative" source for detailed information regarding your trustworthiness.
  • by damn_registrars ( 1103043 ) <> on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @10:35AM (#42796273) Homepage Journal
    Salary information does pertain rather directly to ability to pay off debt.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Great but shouldn't it be MY decision on who gets to see what my salary is. It used to be you didn't talk about what people made. Now they freely give that out to a thrid party?

    • by sycodon ( 149926 )

      Unless you are paying Child Support or have other court ordered outlays that don't show on the credit report.

    • by h4rr4r ( 612664 )

      Which should be my decision to disclose or not.

      If you want to extend me credit then ask for that information and the documentation to prove it.

    • So what? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by bradley13 ( 1118935 ) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @10:47AM (#42796387) Homepage

      If you are a bank considering loaning me money, then I can choose to share my salary information with you. There is no reason at all for this information to be made available without the individual's permission!

      • by Necroman ( 61604 )

        Banks must have your permission to run your credit report. If a bank or any organization runs your credit without your permission they can get in pretty big trouble.

  • that needs to be made but probably never will.
    • by MickyTheIdiot ( 1032226 ) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @10:51AM (#42796443) Homepage Journal

      The rule of thumb is, how does the proposed law affect a corporate entity that has its hand in the lobbying game.

      If it has no affect, it will be ignored and never brought up. It's a waste of time.
      If it is detrimental, it will be openly struck down.
      If it means money in the pockets of corporate partners, it will sail right through.

      This works WAY more often than not. It gets more interesting when more than one special interest in involved. Then there is a fight. The big guy usually wins (look at the oil lobby).

  • I think that they should not be giving out health info like that.

    • As I understand HIPPA (and I am not a doctor or a lawyer but someone that had to worry about this for a specific project at one time), it covers your health care professional and means nothing to your employer or other agency.

      Again... it's corporate anarchy. They have this information and they are going to leverage it. They're WAY bigger than individuals or families, so screw you.

      • Re:hipaa violation? (Score:5, Informative)

        by punker ( 320575 ) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @11:06AM (#42796617)

        Not True. I worked a contract for a health department, and HIPAA violations cover employers, providers, and insurers/agents. However, the key thing is if it would be considered 'protected health information' (PHI). There is alot of data that is not PHI that can legally be shared. PHI really centers on personally identifiable health information. Insurance status generally falls outside of that.

  • Privacy and Abuse (Score:4, Insightful)

    by under_score ( 65824 ) <mishkin&berteig,com> on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @10:41AM (#42796317) Homepage

    In our culture, we are afraid of abuses.... legitimately! Having this information for sale can easily be used for such obvious purposes as rejecting a job candidate because their past salary is "too high". Stronger privacy protection is generally considered the antidote to such potential abuses. However, more and more regulation leads to greater and greater bureaucracy and therefore the cost of government increases.

    Another solution is a longer-term solution and that is to address the underlying cultural assumptions and shift the world to a more positive outlook based on the idea of the inherent nobility of humans. Our bureaucracy has grown as we have moved away from a perspective on the noble human to the animal human with greed motivating our every move. In fact, this is a cultural choice, not a foregone conclusion.

    At some point, I hope that we (culturally) will start responding to these sorts of crisis with a long-term view to improving humanity rather than reacting to the down-side.

  • Horribly Unfair (Score:5, Interesting)

    by realsilly ( 186931 ) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @10:42AM (#42796333)

    Just this week, in the paper, I read that one senator is proposing a bill to allow employees to freely and openly discuss their pay. But here we read that this information is simply handed over to credit agencies. These credit agencies can then basically sell your information to Credit Card companies, Banks and more.

    So it really begs the question, why am I not allowed to openly discuss my salary information but HR can hand it out to a Credit agency where from there it can be sold to half the corporations in America?

    Our government really does not care about it's citizens any longer, only which corporations donate the most to their campaigns. /sigh

    • I read that one senator is proposing a bill to allow employees to freely and openly discuss their pay.

      Am I missing something? Why would this be illegal in the first place? I don't tell people my salary because I think it's inappropriate to discuss such things, not because I think I'm not allowed to.

  • Just like the credit reporting agencies, gathering all sorts of financial information without your permission.

  • by Durrik ( 80651 ) <pwright AT ryksyll DOT com> on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @10:46AM (#42796369) Homepage
    I'm not being conspiracy nut in this. This is just one more tool that HR departments can use to keep pay low for people applying for work at a company. They always ask for what your current salary is. Before an applicant could lie and tell the HR department a higher number and get offered that higher number. Now they can just check this database and see what the number actually is.

    When I job switched in the past I've never been offered a number higher than what I currently made when I was truthful about my salary, and I screwed myself over. There was a time when I worked for a start-up and my salary was frozen for four years. When that job died I told my new employer what I was making and got offered a bit less since it was a rough job market. The raises I got at that job were less than inflation. The last time I switched I took my salary at the start of the previous job, ran it through the inflation calculator, added 10% and told that number to the new company. That was the number that I was offered, and they gave me some song and dance about it was a privilege about working in the industry when I tried to see if I could get it higher. So I got a 17% raise over my previous company.

    Now with this database that tactic is no longer viable. And if you don't tell them the current number you're making and then check it out, they can mark you as dishonest. Kind of hypocritical if you ask me.
  • Maybe???? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kurt555gs ( 309278 ) <kurt555gs AT ovi DOT com> on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @10:46AM (#42796375) Homepage

    Ted Kasinsky was right.

  • They may be able to fill your income tax return on your behalf.
  • by Jason Levine ( 196982 ) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @10:55AM (#42796501) Homepage

    When my identity was stolen (credit card opened in my name by someone with my name/address/SSN/DOB), I froze my credit and my wife's credit. This means that nobody can read our credit files or add to it without our permission. If we want to get a car loan, refinance my mortgage, or open a new credit card, we need to thaw out our credit files. (This costs us $5 per person per agency - of which there are 3 - but this fee varies by state.) If a potential employer wants to run a credit check on me, they'll need to ask for my permission before they can see my credit file.

  • by acidfast7 ( 551610 ) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @11:07AM (#42796629)
    ... why demand the secrecy? Why not adopt a Nordic-style openness that shows who pays what taxes and where the taxes actually go. I also appreciated my annual credit history/report that was automatically mailed to my address when I lived in Stockholm. Why do you guys have to make everything so complicated? There's no security through obscurity.
    • by bradley13 ( 1118935 ) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @11:36AM (#42796993) Homepage

      The problem in the USA is the absolutely insane marketing. If public information shows that you make a good income and keep your debts under control, you will be bombarded with "pre-approved credit cards", "refinance your home with us", "buy a new car here", "lose all your money in our casino", and other lovely stuff.

      If you live in Europe, you have no idea. When I went back to visit the US for several weeks a couple of years ago, I found the incessant marketing just incredible. The bank tellers trying to sign you up for credit cards. Every phone call to a company begins with a recorded sales pitch. Television shows contain more commercials than content, especially the children's shows. It's just incredible. I suppose you must eventually get numb to it...

  • by frovingslosh ( 582462 ) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @11:26AM (#42796865)

    Wanted to mention something very relevant about Equifax. I took advantage of a "get your credit score" free offer several years ago that was posted on Slick Deals. It involved giving Equifax a little data on myself, including an email address that they sent the final credit score report to. I've long used the Spamgourmet forwarding service, so I created and used a unique email address for this purpose. Never gave it to anyone else. It even includes Equifax as part of the name, as well as a "watch word" that was only active for a month when the Equifax account was created. Later I started getting LOTS of spam from Chinese sources to that email address. I don't think it was intercepted, as Equifax hadn't sent me any more mail for quite a while. No one got into my system and none of my other accounts started getting spammed, only the Equifax account.

    So, as I see it that leaves three possible causes: Equifax sold my email address to spammers, an employee at Equifax stole data and sold it, or Equifax is so insecure with this very important personal data that they were hacked by the spammers. None of these possibilities speaks well for Equifax.

    As of today, 264 pieces of mail have been sent to that account, including the one or two legitimate ones. That particular account was quickly shut down without compromising my read email address, but I've always wondered what information the hackers got on me.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      I'm pretty much in the same boat, but I signed up directly with the MyFICO service, which was eventually sold to Equifax. I run a wildcard email forward on a throwaway domain for all my vendor contact stuff, and I'm not getting hits like this for other domain stuff as other comments suggest. I receive obvious finance related phishing crap, related to this financial information transaction, at this specific email address. In my case, the email address was dormant for 4+ years with zero traffic before it g
  • by ducomputergeek ( 595742 ) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @12:36PM (#42797801)

    I had bad experiences with credit in my early 20's. Not ashamed to admit it. The more I got to learning about how the credit system works the more I was boggled at how bad it really was and was bound and determined to get out of it by my 30's. So I spent a lot of time in my mid and late 20's with a start up that I eventually sold for a fair amount of money. It wasn't millions, but enough to pay off my debts, buy a condo that I rehabbed and then got luck to flip for a good profit, and then I bought the farm next to my Dad's.

    Now I pay cash for everything. If I need a car, I try to find a good used one (although thanks to cash for clunkers there aren't a lot out there. My 2004 Chevy Impala with 130k miles could fetch way more than it's worth at the moment).

    After buying the farm, I didn't have enough to buy another place so I decided to rent a loft. Walked in and they all their "credit" requirements. I asked them to figure out the amount of the lease and I'd go right to the bank and get a cashiers check for the full amount up front. Amazing how they no longer needed to run my credit.

    Last year I created an LLC for my part time business of going to estate sales and then dealing in antique and vintage furniture. Went to see about credit card processing from the bank and a couple days later got a call back stating that they had a problem: there wasn't any credit records for me. I smiled, said don't worry about it and opened a square account.

  • Before you panic... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Peter Simpson ( 112887 ) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @01:06PM (#42798223)
    I followed the link in the article: [] It lets you search for your employer. My current employer does not report. My previous employer did, but the one previous to that did not. So that's 1/3 for me. YMMV, but it's probably worth checking. Then you can go (or not) to your HR dept and ask them why or thank them for not divulging your info.

"You can have my Unix system when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers." -- Cal Keegan