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Thread: Gun broker requiring credit reports by Equifax to sign up

  1. #1
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    Angry Gun broker requiring credit reports by Equifax to sign up

    I recently tried to purchase a gun from Gunbroker.com. During the sign up process I was informed that my "Information could not be verified" and they needed a copy of my driver's license and utility bill showing my home address and asked that it be sent to a fax number. I was not interested in providing that info to what is basically just a match making service so I inquired further to their support contacts.

    This is the conversation that follows

    ME: When I registered with your site I was told that I needed to submit a copy of my drivers lic and copy of my utility bill. I am not interested in providing this. Is this a standard requirement of doing business with Gunbroker.com?

    GBSupport: It is required if we are unable to verify your contact information.

    ME: What information were you unable to verify? Obviously my email works and I am a live person who can respond. Did you try to call my phone number? My address is a physical address which can be looked up on Google maps. So what information were you unable to verify?

    GBSupport: Our verification service is run by Equifax and it looks like you have requested a security freeze through them so they were unable to verify your information.

    I do in fact have a security freeze on my credit reports. I have a armed stalker who has my Social security number and is following me around continuing to harass me and law enforcement has been no help. The fact that GunBrokers.com was aware that I had a freeze on my credit report tells me that they did attempt to run a credit report. They did not ask for permission nor notify me of an attempt to run a credit report. This seems like a extreme invasion of privacy and brings to mind the question of is Gunbroker.com following national laws on not keeping a list of gun purchaser. They also may have violated credit reporting laws by pulling my credit report without requesting permission from me before hand.

    I understand the need to keep criminals from purchasing guns, but GunBroker.com is not the seller nor buyer. They are merely a match making service and have no responsibility in the purchase beyond match making. A requirement of a purchase through Gunbroker.com is that all sales are done through a FFL. It is the FFLs responsibility to do background checks and verify my legal right to purchase a firearm NOT Gunbroker.com.

    Equifax is a data broker. Once a background check is run on an individual from a certain merchant that individual is now on a list of "gun purchasers". That list is now available to anyone for a price. This can include magazine publishers, merchants selling to gun enthusiast, or even the government who wants to know everyone who purchases a gun. This is exactly the type of list that is unlawful throughout much of the country. No where else that I might purchase a firearm am I exposed to this sort of invasion or privacy that does not have legal checks and balances. While my background is checked at my local FFL or gun show to verify that I am in fact legally allowed to purchase a firearm, that information cannot be sold, used for any other reason other than to confirm my legal ability to own or purchase a firearm. There are also time limits on the storage of that data, usually less then one month. No such requirements exist for companies like Equifax.

    While I applaud any efforts to keep guns out of the hands of criminals I am completely against any violations state and federal law to do so. I am a Veteran and a law abiding citizen legally allowed to own a firearm and Gunbroker.com has ZERO need to know my credit back ground and history.

  2. #2
    Founder's Club Member thebigsd's Avatar
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    Wow, that sounds really strange. I have bought about 20 guns through Gunbroker over the last four years with no problems at all. I provided the basic information to set up and account. I too am curious about why they would need to run a credit check. Like you said, they are just facilitating purchases between you and a gun store/private party. Strange...
    Last edited by thebigsd; 07-12-2011 at 03:32 PM.
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    Regular Member riverrat10k's Avatar
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    If Gunbroker is running a credit report on you without notifcation to you...

    ...they are in violation of federal law.

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    Check gunbroker.com's TOS. Folks likely click an "I agree" button without reading the terms to which they are agreeing. The TOS probably says that using their service amounts to consent for checks through Equifax or the other two credit-checking services.

  5. #5
    Founder's Club Member thebigsd's Avatar
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    eye95 may be right. I looked through their terms of service and privacy policy and did not see any indication that they use Equifax for credit checks. I did open a support ticket which is below. I will let you know when I get a response.

    "I have been a GunBroker member for several years now. It has recently come to my attention that GunBroker uses Equifax as a verification service for new members. What information needs to be verified in order for one to have an account with Gunbroker. GunBroker rules require that all modern firearms sales be completed through an FFL. FFLs are then responsible for verifying buyer information. I am very concerned that GunBroker chooses to submit my information to a third party (Equifax) for verification purposes without my permission. I see no legitimate reason for my personal information to be given to Equifax where it is now available to be placed on mailing lists or given to yet another party. I look forward to your response as I hope to continue being an active GunBroker user. Thank you."
    "When seconds count between living or dying, the police are only minutes away."

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    Quote Originally Posted by eye95 View Post
    Check gunbroker.com's TOS. Folks likely click an "I agree" button without reading the terms to which they are agreeing. The TOS probably says that using their service amounts to consent for checks through Equifax or the other two credit-checking services.
    Nope, I checked (and downloaded) a copy of the TOS. Nowhere does it say anything to the effect of "I give permission to run a background or credit check". The TOS can be found on the landing page of Gunbroker.com. Feel free to verify.

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    Quote Originally Posted by av8tr1 View Post
    Nope, I checked (and downloaded) a copy of the TOS. Nowhere does it say anything to the effect of "I give permission to run a background or credit check". The TOS can be found on the landing page of Gunbroker.com. Feel free to verify.
    I choose to take your word. File a complaint with them. Check to see if what they are doing is also a violation of the law. File a complaint with your DA or AG. To my knowledge, it is illegal for anyone to do a credit check without your consent. My wife works for a credit union. They won't run a credit check until the member signs a consent form. It is part of the routine paperwork for applying for a loan.

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    Just got another response from the support line. It is interesting to note that this does not exist in the TOS I downloaded last night when I tried to register. And a no matter how they describe this it is still a credit check. I was not asked to provide a credit card. I was not asked to answer a multiple-choice questionnaire. What I was asked was to provide a copy of my drivers license and utility bill to Gunbroker.com. In any case this is still an extreme violation of privacy for what is essentially a match making service.

    The following is a response from Gunbroker:

    GBSupport: We did not state that we ran a credit check. We stated that the verification service is run by Equifax. They have access to your information and generate the questions. We have no knowledge of the questions, your credit history or your answers to the questions. Please refer to the relevant section of our Privacy Policy below.

    Registration and Auction Information. Our Site's registration process requires users to provide us valid and accurate contact information including name, address, phone number, birth date and email address (collectively, “Registration Information”). For fraud prevention purposes, users electing to provide as their sole email contact an email address from a free email service provider (such as Yahoo!® Mail, Google® Gmail, or Hotmail®) are required to enter credit card information at the time of registration, and the card is verified by authorizing a small amount through the credit card processing networks.

    In certain circumstances your registration information may be verified through so-called “credit header” information. You may be required to answer a multiple-choice questionnaire compiled from information managed by consumer and business information sources. These questions can include elements from your financial history. This is done as an identity verification and fraud prevention measure.

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    Whatever they call it and whether they actually use any information acquired, a credit-reporting service was consulted. This causes information held by them to be potentially made more vulnerable, even if the requester chooses not to look at any of the information. It also causes a change in information held by the credit-reporting service which can (and usually does) impact your credit score! That being so, no one should even contact a credit-reporting service without explicit consent from the customer.

    I don't see that as happening in your case. I'd continue to press the issue. Gunbroker.com needs to change their practices. Either they should stop consulting credit-reporting services or they should obtain explicit and clear consent, not general acceptance of policies in which some small statement about the use of such services buried where they know no one will actually read it!

  10. #10
    Regular Member Thundar's Avatar
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    Just another reason to use Auction Arms.
    He wore his gun outside his pants for all the honest world to see. Pancho & Lefty

    The millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us....There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! ...The war is inevitable–and let it come! I repeat it, Sir, let it come …………. PATRICK HENRY speech 1776

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    Quote Originally Posted by eye95 View Post
    I choose to take your word. File a complaint with them. Check to see if what they are doing is also a violation of the law. File a complaint with your DA or AG. To my knowledge, it is illegal for anyone to do a credit check without your consent. My wife works for a credit union. They won't run a credit check until the member signs a consent form. It is part of the routine paperwork for applying for a loan.
    I am hesitant to file a complaint on them. I think we have a pretty litigious society as it is. I also think our 2nd amendment rights are under significant attack. Gunbroker.com provides an important service to the firearms community. I am hopeful that by posting this in places like Opencarry forums the community will force Gunbroker.com to change it's ways rather than force yet another firearms industry participant to face legal action by civil or federal authorities.

    We need companies like Gunbroker.com. Far too many people are quick to jump on the sue bandwagon. So help spread the word in the community. If enough of us show our distaste with Gunbroker.com's business practices it might resolve the issue much faster than any court will and protect Gunbroker.com from facing costly litigation that can impact it's ability to operate.

    Too bad I saw a PS90 I have been looking to buy for a while at a really good price. Going to miss out on it because of this.

  12. #12
    Founder's Club Member thebigsd's Avatar
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    Got a response from my earlier letter. They didn't answer my specific questions but explained briefly why they use Equifax. I will probably continue to use them as they say they do not run credit checks. I have never had a problem with a bad buyer or seller on Gunbroker, unlike my ebay experiences. Here is the response:

    Please see the following from our privacy policy. We take fraud very seriously and the use of Equifax to weed out fake bidders and Fraudulent sellers has been VERY successful. There is a link to the full privacy policy on every page.
    Registration and Auction Information. Our Site's registration process requires users to provide us valid and accurate contact information including name, address, phone number, birth date and email address (collectively, “Registration Information&rdquo. For fraud prevention purposes, users electing to provide as their sole email contact an email address from a free email service provider (such as Yahoo!® Mail, Google® Gmail, or Hotmail®) are required to enter credit card information at the time of registration, and the card is verified by authorizing a small amount through the credit card processing networks.

    In certain circumstances your registration information may be verified through so-called “credit header” information. You may be required to answer a multiple-choice questionnaire compiled from information managed by consumer and business information sources. These questions can include elements from your financial history. This is done as an identity verification and fraud prevention measure.

    Registration Information and information submitted during transactions on the Site may be used in the following ways:

    For fraud protection at the time of registration;
    To send you auction-related notifications about transactions you carry out on the Site;
    If and when you bid on an item, to share your name, address, telephone number, email address and bid information with the seller to facilitate the transaction;
    If and when you list an item for sale, to share your contact information, including name, address, email address, telephone number and item detail, with bidders to facilitate the transaction;
    To perform our billing, administration and collections functions (and to contact you when necessary about these functions);
    To communicate with you and carry out actions requested by you (such as subscriptions to newsletters); and
    When facilitating the investigation of fraud or illegal activity, to share information with bona-fide law enforcement agencies.
    Please see “Communications From the Site and Your Choices” below for information on controlling communications from us.
    "When seconds count between living or dying, the police are only minutes away."

  13. #13
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    The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.

    I have zero problem with their motivation or with their results. It is unacceptable for them to run any client's name through a credit-reporting service, no matter how tangentially, without first obtaining explicit permission to do so. A simple yes/no box with the statement, "I consent to my identification being verified by Equifax," would suffice.

    The client must be given the opportunity to say no.

    Personally, now that I am aware of their practice, I will choose not to use this service and will recommend against others using it. The practice of doing any check, no matter how small, through Equifax, without obtaining explicit permission first, is dishonest. It makes me wonder what other underhanded things they do.

  14. #14
    Regular Member Jay's Avatar
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    Yes equifax is known as a credit reporting agency however they also have a division that does identity verification. This verification does not put a mark, blemish, or inquiry on your credit report. The company simply uses information on your credit report to verify you are who you say you are. Usually by asking you a series of multiple choice questions that the actual account owner would know. For one reason or another gunbroker could not verify the OP's identity. So they use Equifax to verify identity this is most likely to combat fraud it has nothing to do with firearms. If they did not verify a persons identity then I could purchase firearms say with a stolen credit card and have them sent to my FFL or even worse purchase it from an in state buyer somewhere that allows private party transfers without the use of an FFL. So Equifax is not running a credit report they are just using the information in it to verify your identity. They do not give any credit info to gunbroker. All they do is say yes or no that identity has been positively identified.
    Last edited by Jay; 07-14-2011 at 09:30 PM.
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    The FFL needs to verify identity. The broker does not.

    Until and unless the broker starts disclosing their practice and obtaining explicit, informed consent, I will advice against using this service. No one should access the information in a credit report, for whatever reason and in whatever manner, without that consent.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by eye95 View Post
    The FFL needs to verify identity. The broker does not.

    Until and unless the broker starts disclosing their practice and obtaining explicit, informed consent, I will advice against using this service. No one should access the information in a credit report, for whatever reason and in whatever manner, without that consent.
    Gunbroker does need to verify identity to protect sellers from remorseful buyers and to protect buyers from scamming sellers. As was mentioned above, if they are simply using equifax's identity verification, it is no more invasive to you than checking your first name/last name/address/phone number with whitepages.com, but is probably more accurate because they use DOB as well with equifax.

    I bet gunbroker isn't the only company that you do business with that uses equifax identity suite and doesn't tell you about it. Here's a little information: http://www.equifax.com/consumer/risk...identity/en_us

    Gunbroker (as other online auction sites) has had a problem with scammers, and I think they are doing a good job of staying on top of it.

    I don't see that this would be unethical in the least.

    BTW, I don't think they're hiding anything.
    http://forums.gunbroker.com/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=525371
    http://www.gunbroker.com/Support/Sup...spx?faqid=1234

    If you hit the second link above, it takes you to several multiple choice questions that relate to your personal information. For me, the questions that came up are my mortage provider, payment amount, street I've lived on, and city I've lived in.
    Sure, they never state that Equifax is the verification service they use, but come on, do you think they came up with the right answers on their own?

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    Quote Originally Posted by cce1302 View Post
    Gunbroker does need to verify identity to protect sellers from remorseful buyers and to protect buyers from scamming sellers. As was mentioned above, if they are simply using equifax's identity verification, it is no more invasive to you than checking your first name/last name/address/phone number with whitepages.com, but is probably more accurate because they use DOB as well with equifax.

    I bet gunbroker isn't the only company that you do business with that uses equifax identity suite and doesn't tell you about it. Here's a little information: http://www.equifax.com/consumer/risk...identity/en_us

    Gunbroker (as other online auction sites) has had a problem with scammers, and I think they are doing a good job of staying on top of it.

    I don't see that this would be unethical in the least.

    BTW, I don't think they're hiding anything.
    http://forums.gunbroker.com/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=525371
    http://www.gunbroker.com/Support/Sup...spx?faqid=1234

    If you hit the second link above, it takes you to several multiple choice questions that relate to your personal information. For me, the questions that came up are my mortage provider, payment amount, street I've lived on, and city I've lived in.
    Sure, they never state that Equifax is the verification service they use, but come on, do you think they came up with the right answers on their own?
    They do not need to verify identity by law as the FFL does. They choose to. For valid reasons, but it IS a choice, not a need.

    It is unethical if they do not notify the customer that they will be sharing personal information with a credit-checking service to run a check of any kind. Mentioning the practice, buried in FAQ or in a forum, is not notification. The ethical thing to do is, upon the customer making the click that will trigger the check, popping up an announcement that the customers personal information will be sent to Equifax and that Equifax will send information back in response to the check, giving the customer the option of proceeding or not.

    It really is quite simple to do the ethical thing. Gunbroker is not doing the ethical thing.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by eye95 View Post
    They do not need to verify identity by law as the FFL does. They choose to. For valid reasons, but it IS a choice, not a need.
    I never said they needed to do it by law. It's a heck of a good business practice to protect ones customers in the best way they can, which makes it a need.
    It is unethical if they do not notify the customer that they will be sharing personal information with a credit-checking service to run a check of any kind. Mentioning the practice, buried in FAQ or in a forum, is not notification. The ethical thing to do is, upon the customer making the click that will trigger the check, popping up an announcement that the customers personal information will be sent to Equifax and that Equifax will send information back in response to the check, giving the customer the option of proceeding or not.

    It really is quite simple to do the ethical thing. Gunbroker is not doing the ethical thing.
    Really? Do they have to tell you specifically which service they use in order to meet your personal code of ethics? As was mentioned, they are not checking your credit score. They are verifying your identity using an identity verification service owned by company that also runs credit reports. What does it matter that they don't tell you the name of the service they use? They probably don't tell you the manufacturer of the servers the site is hosted on, either.

    Maybe if you're so worked up about it, you could open a support issue @ gunbroker rather than claiming that gunbroker holdings runs an unethical business because they don't tell you the name of the service that they use when they verify their customers identity. They can do a whole lot more about it than OCDO.

    Of course, then they'll get a lot of people refusing to register when they find out that their identity is being verified by equifax. There are probably people out there that think that an identity verification request through equifax will lower there credit score-and those people probably vote, too.

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