Is It Safe To Give My SSN To Experian?

an example of an SSN card

Among the three main credit bureaus, Experian prides itself on offering exceptional service while safeguarding the personal information of its customers. The privacy policy clearly outlines how information is used and how the credit reporting agency adheres to legal requirements and consumer expectations.

It is understandable to be cautious when it comes to providing your Social Security Number, and rightfully so. However, Experian requires this information to verify your identity when accessing their products or services. As a new customer, you may question whether you can trust Experian with such sensitive information, which is crucial for identifying you and tracking your financial history.

Experian has built a reputation as a reliable provider of valuable credit solutions for both consumers and business owners over the past decade. The credit reporting agency also implements comprehensive privacy policies to safeguard personal data, along with offering identity theft services to prevent fraud or assist in case of identity compromise.

To determine if Experian is trustworthy, you can refer to its Consumer Data Privacy Policy, which details how personal information is used and disclosed by the company.

What Personal Information Does Experian Collect, How Do They Use It, and To Whom Do They Disclose It?

According to Experian's U.S. Consumer Data Privacy Policy, the company collects personal and online identifiers like your first and last name, address, phone number, social security number, driver's license, email, or unique online identifiers. 

Basically, they gather a bunch of info about you. The policy is pretty upfront about Experian sharing and selling your personal info to other companies for business purposes. They also use cookies and tracking tech to show you ads for Experian on other websites. It's all part of their marketing strategy. These actions might be considered "sales," "sharing," or "targeted advertising" under the law. 

Some of the companies Experian shares your info with include car companies, business services, consumer services, schools, energy companies, banks, food and drink companies, and government agencies. So, they're pretty open about what they do with your Social Security Number.

So, by providing Experian with your Social Security Number, you are acknowledging and agreeing to the terms outlined in their Consumer Data Privacy Policy, which may involve the sharing or disclosure of your information to trusted third-party companies.

What Are Your Rights Regarding Your SSN?

According to Experian, if you live in states with strong consumer data privacy laws like California, Colorado, Connecticut, Utah, and Virginia, you have some important rights you can exercise. These rights come with a few exceptions and limitations, but they're still pretty cool:
  • Right to Know/Access: You can find out and access the personal information that Experian has about you.
  • Right to Delete: You can ask Experian to delete any personal information they have about you, with a few exceptions.
  • Right to Correct: If there's any inaccurate personal information about you in Experian's records, you can ask them to fix it.
  • Right to Opt-Out: You can control how certain personal information is processed, including opting out of sales, sharing, processing, and use of your info for things like targeted advertising.
  • Right to Opt-Out or Limit the Use of Sensitive Personal Information: If you're in California, for example, you can opt-out or limit how Experian uses sensitive personal information they have about you.
  • Right to Non-Discrimination: Exercising your consumer rights shouldn't result in any discrimination against you.
  • Right to Portability: You can get a copy of your personal information from Experian in a format that's easy to use.
  • Right to Appeal: If you're not happy with Experian's decision on your request, you can appeal it.

Has Experian Experienced a Data Breach?

On October 1, 2015, Experian made a big announcement about a data breach that happened between September 1, 2013, and September 16, 2015. It turns out that around 15 million people who used Experian's services, including customers of T-Mobile who applied for credit checks, may have had their private info exposed. 

Fast forward to 2020, and Experian had another data breach, this time in South Africa. At first, Experian said they had it under control, but it later came out that wasn't true. The data of 24 million South Africans and almost 800,000 businesses was leaked, with financial details of over 24,000 businesses exposed. 

Then in January 2021, there was yet another leak in Brazil, linked to Experian's Brazilian subsidiary Serasa Experian. This time, the data of 220 million citizens, including some deceased individuals, was sold online. It's being called one of the worst data breaches ever, with names, social security numbers, income tax forms, addresses, and other private info of almost all Brazilian citizens being compromised. Experian says there's no proof their systems were hacked, but it's hard to believe they weren't involved somehow. A Brazilian consumer rights group criticized Experian for not handling the breach properly.

And just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, on December 23, 2022, KrebsOnSecurity told Experian that identity thieves had figured out how to access anyone's full credit report using just their name, address, date of birth, and Social Security number. Experian fixed the problem, but didn't say anything about it for a whole month. Finally, in January 2023, Experian admitted the security flaw lasted for almost seven weeks, from November 9, 2022, to December 26, 2022.

So, is it Safe To Give Your  Social Security number To Experian?

It seems like every day there's another data security disaster putting our personal info at risk. Whether it's a big hotel chain or a financial institution, someone's always getting hacked. With breaches at places like Capital One and Equifax, experts say it's pretty likely your social security number has been compromised. It's out there on the dark web, so it's safe to assume it's been leaked at least once. 

If you're cool with how Experian uses your SSN, go ahead and give it to them. They've got solutions like fraud alerts and security freezes to help keep your identity safe. 

Just watch out for phishing scams - they're super common. Scammers might pretend to be Experian and ask for more info to access your credit score. To avoid getting scammed, always go directly to Experian's website or app when checking your score. And never give your info to a sketchy source!
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