How to Review (and Dispute) the Salary Data Equifax Collects on You

You know you should check your free, annual credit reports. But you can —and should—also request and review the salary information credit bureaus collect on you.

Equifax Workforce Solutions is a subsidiary of Equifax that collects employment data, including payroll information, through a service called The Work Number (which, like its parent company, has security issues of its own). It sells that data to creditors and people like your landlord, as well as to potential employers to check your salary and work history. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you’re entitled to a free annual copy of the report.

You can request a report online, call the company (866-604-6570), or fill out a form and mail it in (I called). Once you receive the report, you can dispute it, by phone, mail, or online, if there’s an error. If your employer hasn’t sent data to The Work Number, then you won’t have a report (the company acts as an intermediary between your employer and potential lenders).

As Joel Winston writes for Fast Company, you can’t opt out of the company collecting your data, but you can put an alert on your report or freeze access to it, much like a credit report. Unlike your credit report, there is no charge to“freeze” or “unfreeze” your Equifax Workforce Solutions report, according to Winston.

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“Like with a credit freeze, it is incumbent upon the employee to remember to lift the freeze prior to undertaking any credit- or employment-related transaction, as it may create an obstacle to receiving the credit or benefit the employee is seeking,” Marisa Salcines, a spokesperson for Equifax Workforce Solutions, told Winston.

In another story written by Winston, Equifax cautioned consumers about freezing their reports, saying, “a lender, property manager or pre-employment screener will call an employer and explain why they need to check on an employee or former employee’s employment or income. That individual has no control over who picks up the phone, whether the right information is actually given out, or if his or her privacy will be respected.”

If that’s not enough of a deterrent for you, you can put a freeze on your The Work Number report on the website, by calling 800-996-7566, or by sending a request via mail:

TALX Corporation

ATTN: Employment Data Report Dept 19-10

11432 Lackland Road

St. Louis, Missouri 63146

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AccuSource and InVerify are two other companies that verify employment information, reports The New York Times. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau also keeps a list of consumer reporting companies, and says you’re entitled to request the information the companies request on you, as well as to dispute it.

Why would you want to do this? You may be applying for a new job, or want to secure a loan. Or you may just want to know what data these opaque agencies collect.

As Fast Company notes, this isn’t the same thing as a credit freeze or report, which you access through Equifax itself. You’re entitled for one free report each year from each of the three credit bureaus, and you should check each for errors.

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