Their downtown office quickly expanded, as the brothers offered life and auto insurance. The Retail Credit Company continued to expand, going public in 1965 and (with other credit agencies) coming under Federal Trade Commission oversight in 1971. Not long after, the government accused the company of rating employees based on how much negative information they could find about consumers. The company responded that such findings were never used in credit-rating evaluations but were limited to its insurance and consumer investigations businesses (which were later spun off). Nevertheless, after the company pledged to monitor its procedures more carefully, the government halted its investigation.
In 1973, in one
Over the years the company has produced several profitable data-gathering and transaction-processing progeny, including Certegy, which became a separate entity in 2001, and ChoicePoint, which became a separate entity in 1997. The trouble-plagued ChoicePoint made headlines in 2005 for leaking consumers' confidential information to identity thieves. (ChoicePoint and Equifax did not then, nor do they now, share information or any relationship.)
Today, in addition to its credit-reporting and risk-management businesses, Equifax markets credit cards and provides fraud-detection services, database marketing, and risk consulting. Equifax's credit-scoring software is offered through many subsidiaries, and its customers include retailers, insurance firms, health-care providers, utilities, government agencies, banks, and other financial institutions. Its stock value consistently outperforms the market, and the company often explores new ventures, although with varying degrees of success.
The Woolford brothers left their own legacies apart from the phenomenally successful business they started.
In 1935 Cator Woolford donated a parcel of land he owned in Glynn County, adjacent to an old river plantation known as Elizafield, to the state of Georgia for use as a state park. A decade later, the state legislature consented to the establishment of a home for underprivileged boys, Boys Estate, on the property. Today the facility operates as Morningstar Treatment Services, which serves mentally retarded and severely emotionally disturbed children.
Guy Woolford was also inclined to make lasting contributions to his community. He established the Thomas Guy Woolford Charitable Trust, which is today administered by SunTrust Banks. Additionally, in the late 1940s he served as a trustee of the Fernbank Science Center and helped to acquire property that would ensure a buffer for the pristine Fernbank Forest.
Krista Reese, Decatur
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