Social Credit Comes to US Shores: Consumers Denied Services Based on Shadowy “Security Ratings”

By Janet Phelan

Another blip in what appears to be subtle yet rampant discrimination levied against certain American citizens has emerged on the social radar. As reported recently here, there appears to be another scoring system—other than credit scores—which is not only encouraging but mandating private companies to withhold their regular services from certain consumers.

Sometimes referred to as a “security score,” this rating system trumps excellent credit and has resulted in numerous Americans being denied the ability to transact with Western Union, eBay and various other companies.


When A.A. tried to buy some merchandise online from Z and Z Medical, her credit card was refused. According to the owner of Z and Z, stated A.A., the order was not refused due to bad credit but rather because her “security score”, which was issued by a shadowy third company, was rated as “poor/low”.  Z and Z informed her in writing, “The information provided for this order does not meet our security requirements. This order has been cancelled and the credit card transaction has been voided.”

A.A. is one of many US citizens who are now finding that they are being surveilled and “rated” and that this shadowy process and the algorithms that go into producing this “security score” are being withheld from their oversight or appeal as a matter of course.  A.A., who worked as an NSA contractor until stalking and surveillance abuse forced her out of her job, has also experienced refusals and/or blockages of service from eBay, Amazon and other companies.

When Karen Melton Stewart went to a Western Union outlet in Maryland to send a $100 to a friend abroad, the transaction was refused and she was told she would no longer be able to use Western Union to send or receive money. Subsequent communications from Western Union demanded that she remit private information to that company in order to reinstate her, including:

  • “Validation of your source of income
  • Purpose of sending or receiving funds
  • Relationship to the counter parties”

A lengthy written correspondence ensued, with Western Union referring obliquely to the USA PATRIOT Act and to a secret “private policy.” When asked to explain the “private policy,” Western Union replied that it was private and declined to elucidate.

“… we cannot provide specific details about why your transaction was declined for legal and proprietary reasons,” the company stated in a communication dated 8-7-2019.

Stewart is a former NSA linguist who was fired after she blew the whistle on an internal blackmail scheme being run against high level NSA employees. She had worked for the NSA for twenty eight years.

Parenthetically, shortly after I contacted Western Union to try to find out what algorithm and legal authority were governing their refusal to allow Stewart to use their services, a long standing contact in Georgia attempted to send me $150 and was told by Western Union that the account had been blocked. The block was subsequently lifted the following day.

Both A.A. and Karen Stewart have reported not only stalking but also enhanced surveillance techniques, including use of electronic weaponry against them.


The denial of service issue is also extending to medical care. Recently, Kristen Manners, who has hosted an interview show on Truthtainment Network and is now hosting a “Cooking with Cannabis” show, went to the Emergency Room at Parker Adventist Hospital in Parker, Colorado complaining of a parasite infection. She was not provided medical care and instead was remanded against her wishes into a psychiatric unit. In a blatant disregard of her medical complaint, the hospital refused to test the specimen cup which Manners provided them. In a letter dated June 21, 2019, the hospital replied to her complaint and affirmed that “The specimen cup contents were not tested.”

Manners has retained counsel and is suing the hospital.

Frank Allen, who hosts a radio show on Republic Broadcasting Network, Targeted Massachusetts, and also serves on the board of the social action concern, Targeted Justice, recalls his visits with a therapist at STARS in Fall River, MA. “It was all going quite nicely,” he recalls, “until I pulled out my tablet and showed her the site for Targeted Massachusetts.” Allen states that the therapist then responded, “We have inpatient care available.”


A San Francisco company, Sift Science, seems to be leading the way towards enhanced determinations of “reliability,” “risk” and “trust”. The company boasts clients ranging from Couch Surfing to Rently to Destinia to Etix to Remitly and many, many others. Sift proclaims itself the “leader in digital trust and safety,” and states that “…we help more than 34,000 sites and apps navigate the fine balance between growing revenue and protecting their business.”

Sift Science was founded in 2011 by former Google employees. Google has recently hit the news, repeatedly, as its algorithms have been found to censor both alternative media websites as well as natural medicine news.

But what these mechanisms are and how they work remain shrouded in secrecy. Sift Science has certainly secured its own offices—no one answers the phone at the head office. Their designated media contact does not answer the phone nor return messages.

A number of other companies were contacted with questions about the “security code” —Amazon, eBay, Z and Z Medical and Airbnb. The Big Three in credit ratings—Equifax, Experian and Transunion—were also contacted in an effort to determine if they knew anything at all about these “security codes.” At the time of going to press, no one has responded to the inquiries.

All of this smacks of a rating system which resonates with the “social credit” system set up in China. Low social credit scores in China result in inability to travel, to obtain professional employment and refusal of educational opportunities for children. The system encourages a relentless conformity and punishes individuation.

And it appears that a similar system is being quietly rolled out in the US.

The previously cited article in Fast Company considers these rating systems to be a sign of growing privatization of the legal system. The article states “If current trends hold, it’s possible that in the future a majority of misdemeanors and even some felonies will be punished not by Washington, D.C., but by Silicon Valley. It’s a slippery slope away from democracy and toward corporatocracy.”

However, the fact that Western Union relayed that the USA PATRIOT Act was one of the legal foundations prompting service denial to Karen Stewart illuminates the hand of government in this rating system. An undeniable relationship exists between government and private companies and seems to point to a public-private partnership which may be “sifting” out American citizens, into privileged classes or into a class of the divested and disenfranchised.

And without any prior notice or possibility of appeal, apparently….

Janet Phelan is an investigative journalist and author of the groundbreaking exposé, EXILE. Her articles previously appeared in such mainstream venues as the Los Angeles Times, Orange Coast Magazine, Long Beach Press Telegram, etc. In 2004, Janet “jumped ship” and now exclusively writes for independent media. She is also the author of two collections of poetry—The Hitler Poems and Held Captive. She resides abroad. You can follow her on Facebook here:

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