Credit reports and background checks are crucial in securing loans, apartments and jobs. But as John Oliver proved Sunday with an exhaustive report, a surprising amount of them are inaccurate, causing major headaches for those unlucky people.
Oliver first examines credit reports, "the single most important three-digit number in your whole life, other than, of course, 311: the Beatles of rap-rock." Forty-seven percent of employers conduct credit checks for a new hire, despite TransUnion – one of three major credit report companies, along with Equifax and Experian – admitting that no statistical correlation exists between credit reports and job performance or likelihood of committing fraud.
Adding to the illogic, 52 percent of all debt on credit reports is from medical expenses; and 25 percent of credit reports contain errors – including being mixed up with other people entirely. Oliver reports on one man confused with a terrorist and a woman forced to prove –at exhaustive lengths – that she wasn't deceased.
Background check agencies also commit a shocking number of errors – some of which are humiliating. Oliver spotlights one man simultaneously confused with three different sex offenders. "There's only one person who could pull off being three sex offenders at the same time, and that is Mr. Neil Patrick Harris," the host cracks. "I'm not saying he is. I'm saying he has got the performance chops to make you believe it is possible. If he put his mind to it, he could be the literal triple threat. He's that good. He's that good a performer!"
Rolling the dice, The Last Week Tonight staff purchased their own background checks. Five staffers' reports included alias names they'd never heard of, and one was mistaken for a man indicted for Medicaid fraud in Florida.
In 2013, an industry trade group issued a press release stating that "95 percent of consumers are unaffected by errors in their credit report." But as Oliver notes, "when you're holding records for more than 200 million individuals, that 5 percent error rate affects 5 million people."
To give the big three companies – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion – a taste of their own medicine, Last Week Tonight created websites for three disturbing companies – Equifacks, Experianne and TramsOnion – which specialize in activities like taking shelter animals to customers' homes, "where the animals lick peanut butter off people's genitals before being immediately returned to the shelter."
"Equifacks is just an awful company," Oliver cracks. "But don't worry, Equifax, I can't imagine anyone will mistake them for you."Find out five things you didn't know about John Oliver.