Amy Traub

Amy Traub is Senior Policy Analyst at Demos. She is the author of "The Plastic Safety Net: Findings from the 2012 National Survey on Credit Card Debt of Low- And Middle-Income Households," and "Discrediting America: The Urgent Need To Reform The Nation's Credit Reporting Industry," among other reports and research. 

Recent Articles

Equifax Knows Quite a Lot about You

Equifax
Just when we imagined that credit-reporting firms couldn’t be more invasive and profiteering, NBC News breaks this story : The Equifax credit reporting agency, with the aid of thousands of human resource departments around the country, has assembled what may be the most powerful and thorough private database of Americans’ personal information ever created, containing 190 million employment and salary records covering more than one-third of U.S. adults. Based on data voluntarily provided by thousands of U.S. businesses and public employers (from local public schools to federal agencies) Equifax’s product, The Work Number , includes information many of us would prefer to keep private, from week-by-week paystubs to information on personal “health care providers”—perhaps including the name of your psychiatrist or gynecologist. For employers, The Work Number offers “an easy way to outsource employment verification of former workers” without having to deal with pesky phone calls whenever...

Workers Won! An Election Fly-Around

(Flickr/uusc4all)
There’s no question that Tuesday’s elections brought some significant wins for working people. I’m not talking about the candidates—although national political reporters are busy acknowledging Obama’s reelection as a clear sign that “ labor ain’t dead ” and pondering the policy implications of victories for pro-worker politicians like Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown—but rather thinking about the ballot initiatives, where in several votes across the country voters spoke out clearly in favor of raising workplace standards and preserving rights on the job. We can speculate about exactly what candidates will do once in office, but it seems certain that many working people will benefit from higher wages, improved benefits, and a right to a voice at work as a direct result of the following ballot measures: In Albuquerque, New Mexico, 40,000 low-wage workers in will get a pay boost as voters in the city overwhelmingly cast their ballots in favor of an increase in the municipal minimum wage. In...

Your Credit Score Could Be A Fake

Say you want to buy a house or a car and you need a loan to do it. You do what every personal finance site recommends and obtain a free copy of your credit report from annualcreditreport.com . Then, urged on by the ads from TransUnion, Equifax, or Experian—the “big three” credit reporting firms that compile the reports—you opt for not only the free report but also shell out for what the companies promise is your actual three-digit credit score . A number! Now, you may think, I know what the auto lenders and banks making mortgages really think of me. I have a sense of what rates I qualify for and what type of car or home I can afford. There’s just one problem: the score you paid for is likely not the same one potential lenders will use to assess you . In fact, it could be way off. What many consumers don’t realize is that they have no single “credit score”— FICO alone has more than 49 different scoring models . And new research from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) finds...

Hard Work Doesn't Pay for Home-Care Workers

Home-care workers aren't casual babysitters, and it's time to make sure they don't get paid like one.

(Flickr/Steve Rhodes)
Say you’ve got a booming industry, one that already employs 2 million workers in the U.S. and is poised to add 1.3 million additional jobs by 2020. Imagine that the jobs cannot be off-shored, that the work helps decrease federal deficits, and millions of Americans depend on the industry just to get through their daily lives. Now ask yourself: Should it be legal to pay the workforce of this thriving and essential industry less than the minimum wage? Currently, it’s perfectly licit. A loophole in the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 exempts home-care workers—employees who provide personal care to the elderly and disabled in their homes—from basic work protections like the minimum wage and overtime pay. The rationale, according to the National Employment Law Project (NELP), was that people providing “companionship services” to seniors and people with disabilities were like casual babysitters. But this exemption, NELP points out, was never meant to include the extensive housework...

Give Us Some Credit

States work to curb the financial background checks that can keep the unemployed out of work.

(Flickr/mueritz)
After two years of working in a temporary job as customer-service representative, Debra Banks was offered the job permanently. She was sent a hire letter, set a start date, and confirmed her new salary. But there was a hitch: To get the job, Banks had to undergo a credit check. They wouldn't be strict, a company representative assured her; after all, Banks had already worked at the firm for two years and consistently received high praise for her work. But when the credit report came back showing unpaid bills from a recent hospitalization, the company rescinded the offer. Her contact at the staffing agency told her the bad credit report was to blame. Banks returned to temp work, only to yet again be denied a permanent job because of her credit history. Then she was laid-off from the temp position as well. "It made me feel worthless as a person," Banks confesses. "Unfortunately my credit has not improved ... I haven't been able to get a job to improve it." Banks's case is hardly an...

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