I got a call Friday from Dun & Bradstreet. I asked why they were calling. They wanted to sell me their service (no surprise there). But the reason they wanted to sell their corporate reporting was so I could check on businesses to protect my company.
So what’s absurd about this?
My company was dissolved ten years ago. I had to file dissolution papers with two states, pay fees, etc. to end its legal existence.
After the call ended, I was wondering what they were doing. What would happen if I used their service to check up on someone else’s company that stopped existing ten years ago? Don’t they even check filings with the various Secretaries of State? If they don’t, just how bad is the data they are selling?
I understand about “Freddy Krueger” data that keeps reappearing even though it’s been discredited and allegedly removed, but I think far too many of us believe what we are told by sources like D&B or credit reporting agencies without reservation.
Years ago, after a bank merger where I had multiple accounts with both banks, I consolidated the accounts and canceled the cards from one of the banks, since having two Visa cards and two Master cards with the same bank name was slightly redundant.
What I didn’t know was that somewhere in the merged database, the ghost of the old accounts continued to reappear. Worse yet, when time for the annual fee on the credit cards came around, I had moved, and it was past the six month period in which the Post Office would forward my mail.
The credit card fee drew down on the overdraft protection, but not before going delinquent and incurring a late fee. Then the overdraft line did the same starting a month later. I was oblivious until they turned it all over to a collection agency. Those guys were smart enough to find my new address and contact me. By then, there was more than a thousand dollars in accrued fees and compounded interest. What a mess.
I worked my way up the chain of command in the new even larger bank until I found an officer who assured me they had wiped out the problem. Then a year later it started all over again.
Dun & Bradstreet obviously has the same problem. Even though they make their money by selling data, they simply can’t stop old bad data from coming back into life.
Welcome to the digital age, when integrating databases seems to go on without ever checking accuracy. If that isn’t bad enough, there’s the ubiquitous internet copy-and-paste.