A good credit history is one of the most important assets in the US. Upon arrival to California, several friends recommended me to get a Shell (pre-paid) or Macy's credit card to build up a credit history. Without a good credit history, getting a credit card is difficult and getting a loan is impossible. All your credit history is collected by one of three major companies: Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. Companies can then contact these companies before granting you credit.
It's ironic that you need a loan or credit card to start building a good credit. I have always been averse to debt: first you save, then you buy. I don't buy on credit, and every credit card bill is paid in full every month. I might not be the best customer for the credit card companies, but haven't had any issue with my credit history (and I don't have a garage full of gadgets or impulsive buys).
Recently, after the outsourced HR of my wife's company reported stolen personal data, I added 90-day fraud alerts on both our credit reports. I added the first 90-day fraud alert with Equifax. The webpage stated I didn't need to contact the other two compabies. They would take care of this.
Since then, I have received letters from both TransUnion and Experian: "We were unable to complete your request ... please provide us more information". Obviously, the request from Equifax to add a 90-day fraud alert was lacking some information. I went to the Experian website and provide the missing information: it was my address, my social security number and my birthdate.
Hold on a second! Our car purchase, our home purchase, even perhaps a future student loan for my kids depends on these companies and these bozos can't even transfer a little piece of data among each other?