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Save your marriage or save your credit

By Amanda Marcotte
Sunday, June 22, 2008 22:29 EDT
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Lindsay Beyerstein catches an important story—an FTC lawsuit against CompuCredit Visa has revealed some of the unusual things that will get held against your credit rating. Oh, it’s not just your income or your borrowing history. Nope. You’re considered a credit risk if you travel more than to work and back and maybe occasionally to the mall, because if you get your tires retreaded, that’s held against you. Good citizens don’t have friends, family, or fun. But what’s really surprising is that if you go to marriage counseling, that’s a strike against you on the credit report.

The FTC claims that CompuCredit didn’t properly disclose that it monitored spending and cut credit lines if consumers used their cards at certain places. Among them: tire and retreading shops, massage parlors, bars, billiard halls, and marriage counseling offices.

Sadly, it actually makes a strange sort of sense. I’m going to bet the bean counters discovered that visiting a marriage counselor was strongly correlated to getting a divorce down the road, which of course can create all sorts of credit problems because of the expense of splitting one household into two. And because divorcing couples sometimes refuse to pay off outstanding debts, each accusing the other of having the responsibility for them. So they flag people who they have reason are a high risk for divorce and pre-emptively strike against customers before the divorce is even initiated.

This isn’t even a causation/correlation error, because they don’t care if marriage counseling doesn’t cause divorce. They’re just looking for any statistical correlation, so they can make educated guesses. If they found that banana eaters were likelier to divorce than non-banana-eaters, they’d probably punish you for buying bananas, too, even if they knew it was just a correlation that in no way implied causation. There’s an irony to this, in that discouraging marriage counseling probably just raises the divorce rate, but I’m assuming CompuCredit was trying to hide their analysis methods from the public and assumed therefore that it wouldn’t matter.

Still, this shows that we have a great rot in our society, with more and more of our economy being based on people being held to utterly unreasonable standards of living that mean you never live just to get by. Don’t have a social life, don’t do anything but go to work, don’t get married, don’t get divorced, etc. Insurance companies would love to exclude people who had more contact with people than was deemed strictly necessary to earn a paycheck to pay them, because the more hands you shake, the higher your likelihood of getting the flu. This is where we’re heading if we don’t do something about it.

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
 
 
 
 
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