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COLUMBIA, S.C. – For at least one major credit bureau, dialup modem connections are going the way of the rotary phone. Experian plans to retire its dialup network by May 31 in favor of the Internet, which offers greater speed, functionality and service options for loan officers pulling credit reports than possible with the older technology, the big credit bureau said. The deadline for retiring the X.25 UUNET dialup network was initially the end of 2003. That was moved back several months “to accommodate support for our credit union clients in the migration effort,” said Addrian Brooks, an Experian spokesman in Costa Mesa, Calif. “We are working closely with our clients to help them meet the deadline,” Brooks said. Experian offers credit unions two levels of service, based on volume. “Subscriber Services is for lower-volume users. Net Connect is for higher volume users,” Brooks said. “Either way, our subscribers will be using an access method that complies with new consumer privacy and data protection requirements” The decision to phase out dialup is not unanimous among credit bureaus. “We do not plan to discontinue dialup service at this time because we try to offer a complete complement of services to our customers, and at this point that includes both dialup and Internet access,” said David Rubinger, vice president of communications for Equifax Inc. in Atlanta. Rubinger said Equifax recognizes the difference in breadth and functionality and range of available products of Internet access compared with dialup, but that “the bigger issue what the individual customer needs.” The switch from dialup to Internet credit pulls was a gratifying move for Anna Zelinskas, director of MIS for $120 million Day Air Credit Union in the Dayton suburb of Kettering, Ohio. “When we first made the switch, it was so incredibly fast it was like something was wrong. Now we couldn’t live without it,” said Zelinskas, whose 20,000-member CU has deployed the Internet Credit Bureau Interface (iCBI) from its core processor, USERS Inc. An Internet connection like iCBI is inherently faster and more reliable than dialup modems, allowing faster loan decisions and internal savings by eliminating multiple modems, communications lines and even servers needed to support the older infrastructure, USERS officials said. While the wait for a credit pull, typically about 30 seconds, wasn’t so much an issue with the dialup connection, the question of whether the connection would actually be made was, and that’s what prompted Day Air to be a beta site for the iCBI solution, Zelinskas said. The transition involved loading “a few pieces of software” to integrate with the DataSafe core system and then configuring with the test databases at TransUnion, Equifax and Experian. “It was probably one of the easiest projects like this we’ve done,” said Zelinskas, adding that her CU spent about $5,000 to deploy the iCBI product for its 10 loan officers. “And now it’s all seamless and transparent to us.” Another happy new user of Web-based credit pulls is Air Academy FCU in Colorado Springs, which has been using a new interface from Harland Financial Solutions, owner of the ULTRADATA core system. “It works like a charm,” said Kevin Mikkelson, UNIX system administrator at $250 million Air Academy FCU. “It eliminates the modems so it enhances security with no impact. “Also, since I set us up with the primary PC connection here and the secondary connection at the host site, we’re automatically covered for business resumption.” But just because they’re now pulling credit reports over the Web doesn’t mean that credit unions are necessarily throwing out the old dialup modems. “The nice thing is we just turned that modem off. If something happens, we can always hook it back up if we need to,” said Zelinskas at Day Air CU. -

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