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Communication Policy
By Michael C. Dennis, MBA, CBF

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Defamation and Credit Ratings

Defamation is a legal term describing an act of communication that causes a person or company to be shamed, ridiculed, held in contempt, lowered in the estimation of the community, or otherwise suffers a damaged reputation. Concerns about lawsuits claiming defamation are a good reason for creditors to limit the information they share when responding to credit inquiries. The following are examples of defamatory statements:

  • This customer just can't be trusted.

  • This customer is both a liar and a thief.

  • You can always tell when this customer is lying...his lips are moving.

  • This account should wear a sign that says: Ten miles of bad roads ahead.

  • I would not trust this customer as far as I can throw him --- which is just what I would like to do.

The key to responding to credit inquiries is to provide only factual, historical information. You should not include personal comments, opinions, recommendations or suggestions.

Reprinted with permission from the © 2002 Covering Credit Newsletter10/01/02 Edition, All Rights Reserved.

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