NPR

Episode 798: Bad Credit Bureau

For most of our lives, Equifax has been slurping up our financial data. Now the company's been hacked and our data is loose. Today, we trace this mess back to two brothers and one fateful decision.
In 1874, if you wanted to buy groceries on store credit, the cashier would reach under the counter and pull out a little blue book. Inside would be your name, profession and whether you paid your debts on time. It was the beginning of the Equifax business model. And it was never about the regular citizens. It was about the businesses that wanted to lend to them. Regular people are the product. Banks and businesses are the customers. / Mark Wilson / Getty Images

In 1874, if you wanted to buy groceries on store credit, the cashier would reach under the counter and pull out a little

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