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Home > Privacy and Business > Financial Privacy > Credit Headers

Credit Headers and Privacy

A "credit header" is the information in a credit report that gives basic information about the person to whom the credit report applies. A credit header includes such information as name, variations of names, current and prior address, phone number, date of birth, and Social Security Number. This identifying information links information in a credit report to a particular individual.

Credit information can be used to access private information, particularly financial information, but the information in a credit header is not generally private in and of itself. The Social Security Number, generally regarded as the most sensitive of the information in a credit header, is used in hundreds of different ways by business and government.

The major abuse that can be made of credit header information is to commit financial crimes like identity fraud. This is less of a privacy problem than a crime problem, and it should be addressed directly and aggressively as a crime. Credit header information can be used to violate privacy if, for example, someone used this information to access private information, then published that private information. The incidence of this appears to be quite low.


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[updated 09/22/01]

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