Early Warning Services: An Alarming Reality About Your Financial Privacy
Imagine a scenario where a group of powerful banks come together to create their own credit reporting agency, gathering an incredible amount of sensitive information about you. Sounds like a plot from a conspiracy theory novel, right? Well, it’s not. Welcome to the world of Early Warning Services (EWS), a credit bureau co-owned by some of the biggest names in the banking industry, including Bank of America, Capital One, JP Morgan Chase, PNC Bank, US Bank, and Wells Fargo.
What is Early Warning Services and Why Should You Be Concerned?
Early Warning Services is a credit reporting agency that gathers and shares information about consumers’ banking history. They have access to your monthly balances, transactions, account opening and closing dates, and more. You might be thinking, “Surely, they can’t know that much about me,” but the truth is, they know a lot more than you’d ever suspect. You might be shocked when you see the report they have on you.
They claim to provide innovation that transforms financial experiences and lives, with over 2,500 companies relying on their services. But, their track record tells a different story.
In their 15 years of service, EWS has faced 445 lawsuits, 65 of which were for Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) violations. Over a million complaints have been filed with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), and they have a measly 1.04-star review from the Better Business Bureau. To put it bluntly, they’re a mess.
Just like every other credit reporting agency EWS must follow the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). That means they have to honor your disputes, timely correct inaccurate information, and maintain policies and procedures designed to eliminate errors.
What’s in Your Early Warning Services Report?
You might be wondering what information EWS collects about you. Here’s a quick rundown of the details you can expect to find in your report:
- Personal information: Your name, address, phone number, date of birth, and Social Security number.
- Banking information: Savings and checking account details, including bank names, account opening and closing dates, balances, account history, and banking activity.
- Inquiry information: A list of companies that have recently requested your report.
- Fraud alerts: Any indications of potential fraud related to your banking history.
The Dark Side of Early Warning Services: FCRA Violations and Lawsuits
In March 2020, Early Warning Services agreed to pay nearly $4 million for violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The class-action lawsuit alleged that EWS did not comply with a consumer’s request for her file, violating the FCRA. They provided an inaccurate consumer file, allegedly removing the term “fraud” from the file disclosures.
The plaintiff, Shabani Stewart, filed the lawsuit in March 2018, claiming that EWS violated the FCRA by failing to provide accurate disclosures to consumers with fraud alerts on their accounts. Stewart was repeatedly denied bank accounts due to supposed fraud notations in her Early Warning file. However, when she ordered her EWS file, there was no mention of fraud.
EWS failed to provide her with the same information they were giving to the banks. They hid the fraud designation in her file, misleading her with their disclosure. As a result, she was stuck with a fraud report being sent to users of the report, but her credit report didn’t contain it.
Protecting Yourself Against Early Warning Services and FCRA Violations
The story of Shabani Stewart is a stark reminder that EWS isn’t a clean player. If you’re facing similar issues with Early Warning Services, you need to take action and protect your financial reputation.
- Request your free annual EWS report to check for inaccuracies or discrepancies.
- If you find errors, file a dispute with EWS under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
Seek legal help from a consumer protection attorney if you believe your rights have been violated.
Remember that under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, if you’re successful in a lawsuit against Early Warning Services, they must pay your attorney’s fees. So, there’s no charge, and no attorney should charge you anything for taking on a case against EWS under the FCRA.
The Importance of Staying Vigilant and Informed
The astonishing amount of sensitive information that Early Warning Services possesses about you should serve as a wake-up call. It’s crucial to stay vigilant and informed about your financial and credit history.
Make it a habit to request your credit reports from all credit bureaus, including EWS, on an annual basis. Regularly monitoring your credit reports will help you identify inaccuracies and resolve them promptly, safeguarding your financial reputation.
It’s also essential to understand your rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act and other relevant consumer protection laws. If you feel that your rights have been violated or need help navigating the complexities of FCRA disputes, consult a consumer protection attorney.
Early Warning Services’ alarming track record and the immense amount of sensitive information they have about you can be quite concerning. But being proactive in monitoring your credit reports, understanding your rights, and seeking legal help when necessary can help you protect your financial reputation and privacy.
Don’t let the questionable practices of EWS or any other credit reporting agency catch you off guard. Take control of your financial future by staying informed and prepared for any challenges that may arise.
Remember, knowledge is power. The more you know about your credit history and the practices of credit reporting agencies like Early Warning Services, the better equipped you’ll be to protect your financial well-being and ensure a brighter future for yourself and your family.
In conclusion, the immense amount of sensitive information held by Early Warning Services is a cause for concern, and staying informed about their practices is crucial for safeguarding your financial well-being. If you find yourself struggling with any issues related to Early Warning Services or if you have concerns about your personal data and credit, don’t hesitate to reach out to our office. Our knowledgeable team is ready to guide you through the complexities of these services and help you protect your financial future. Give us a call today at 210 226-0800 or schedule a consultation and take control of your financial information.