Credit Bureaus are often called “shady” for the ways they gather information and compile files on folks. Equifax, in particular, has been criticized for how it handled a huge data leak in 2017 that resulted in nearly 150 million Americans having their personal information seized by Chinese military agents.
Now, TikToker Jayson Flint (@jaysonflint) has gone viral for showing viewers how much information The Work Number, a company Equifax owns, may have on them.
In his video, Flint explains that he began digging into The Work Number after seeing a TikTok where a woman says she was fired after one of the companies she worked for discovered she had two other jobs the company was unaware of.
“They didn’t see her TikTok, and they didn’t see anything like that. They used a website called theworknumber.com,” Flint says.
According to its website, The Work Number is “the country’s largest centralized commercial database of income and employment information.” It appears to be a service that companies can use to vet job applicants, among other things.
After explaining the service to viewers, Flint says he is unsure how the company that fired the woman with three jobs was able to access her information.
“Now, whatever this company did, I don’t know how they accessed it because they probably belonged to the workplace, and they probably do searches on their own employees,” he says. “But you can do searches. I did a search for myself, and I pulled up my own data.”
Flint says the result of his search was 14 pages of personal data, including income and tax information.
@jaysonflint Company found out employee had 3 jobs at the same time and fired this lady. This is how the obtained the info. #creditrepair #creditprivacynumber #privacymatters #fyp ♬ original sound – Jayson Flint
“It’s got my information from my job that I had back in 2010. It’s got information from a job that I had in 2017. It’s got information according to my taxes for the years 2017, 2016, 2015. It’s got information on my termination dates. It’s got information on bonuses. It’s got information on weekly pay—literally, weekly pay—on this site.”
What appears alarming to Flint is that he was able to use the service to pull up his records but never agreed to have his personal data stored with the business.
“And with that being said, you have to understand that I never signed up for this,” he says. “I never signed up for this website to put this kind of information out for anybody to obtain who gets the code to obtain it.” It is unclear what code Flint is referring to.
Flint adds that the company makes individuals who want their data removed from the site provide even more personal information. He doesn’t recommend going this route. Instead, he suggests that individuals request the company to “lock” their data.
“But, with that being said, you have to prove that you are you in order to get this stuff taken out. You gotta send your driver’s license and some kind of utility bill, paystub, rental agreement, mortgage document, or a W-2. This is the way that they keep you in the system. Now, you can lock your account, and that’s what I would suggest people to do,” he says.
He continues to say that representatives from the company may try to convince customers that they will need a dossier to make it easier for lending companies to secure a mortgage for them: “They say, ‘It might help you with your documentation for mortgages.’ Whatever, they’ll have to go old-school and get my info,” Flint concludes.
In the comments section, viewers expressed anger that companies could have so much of their information and use it against them.
One viewer said that this type of data collection isn’t ethical: “Should be illegal to know our pay and taxes.”
A second expressed that the job application process is pointless if companies already have so much information: “If they have access to all this we shouldn’t need to apply, have a resume or bother with 6 interviews, 14 phone calls & 20 emails.”
Another thought it was unfair for the woman to lose her job even though she was employed at two other businesses: “It’s ridiculous. Even if she did have three jobs. Ppl work multiple jobs to live.”
The Daily Dot contacted Equifax via email and Flint via TikTok comment for further information.
Update 2:42pm CT, Apr. 29, 2023: In an email to the Daily Dot, a spokesperson for Equifax shared the following statement:
“Each time a consumer applies for a mortgage, purchases a car, leases an apartment, or applies for government benefits, that consumer could benefit from instant digital verifications from The Work Number®.
The Work Number is governed by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and data is not released without an FCRA permissible purpose. Data is only released to credentialed users, and we do not provide verifications of income without the consumer’s consent. Few companies have invested more time and resources than Equifax in the last few years to ensure that consumers’ information is protected, as evidenced by our $1.5 billion security and technology transformation and as detailed in our 2022 Security Annual Report.
Equifax receives payroll data directly from a large number of employers, many of which also rely on Equifax for services that help them manage complex and highly regulated human resources-related activities. In addition to working directly with employers, Equifax works with a number of payroll providers to also provide verifications of employment and income on behalf of the payroll providers’ employer clients.
We encourage individuals to visit employees.theworknumber.com, where they can learn more about The Work Number, view their Employment Data Report, and if desired manage their employment data through freeze and dispute options. The Employment Data Report is a full disclosure of all information The Work Number has regarding an individual, along with a list of every entity that has requested such information over the past two years. This equips the individual to confirm the accuracy of the data. An Employment Data Report generally contains far more information than is typically provided to a verifier (such as a bank, social service agency or background screener).”