TRW Employees to Hear Whether Firm Will Move

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The 1,300 employees of TRW's Information Systems and Services division, which operates one of the nation's largest credit bureaus, have been invited to a Garden Grove hotel Tuesday to find out whether the company will stay in Orange County or move out of California.

The afternoon gathering at the Hyatt Regency Alicante will end a month of speculation that began when the company said that costs are too high in California and that it would look for a better deal elsewhere.

The presentation will be made by D. Van Skilling, general manager of the division. TRW spokeswoman Susan Murdy said the hotel was chosen because the company does not have an auditorium big enough to accommodate all of its employees at once.

The company has said it is considering three sites if it chooses to leave: Dallas, where the division has its customer-service and direct-mail operations; Cleveland, where TRW Inc. has its headquarters, and Denver, where TRW has a regional office.

Orange has "offered a variety of considerations," including help on leasing and energy costs, in a bid to keep TRW in the city, said City Councilman William G. Steiner, who termed TRW an "important asset" to the city.

TRW's credit bureau operations got their start in Southern California in the late 1960s, when the aerospace giant was looking for ways to use excess computer capacity. It began monitoring the financial records of individuals for the benefit of such lenders as banks, car agencies and credit card companies.

Today, it is one of the three largest U.S. credit bureaus, with computer files on more than 170 million Americans.

But the company has also heard severe criticism from Congress and defenders of personal privacy, who have alleged that the company has made widespread errors in credit reports and that it has failed to take adequate steps to prevent computer hackers from obtaining data to use in frauds.

TRW recently signed a consent decree brought by the Federal Trade Commission and attorneys general of 19 states that requires the company to clean up its act.

Despite such troubles, TRW has kept growing. It recently considered consolidating its three current buildings next to The City mall in Orange into a single new high-rise, also in Orange. Plans for the new structure on the site of the old Orange Drive-In fell through in January when the developer, IDM Corp. of Long Beach, could not secure financing.

TRW has a long-term leases on its current sites but can be released from those obligations if necessary, Murdy said Friday.

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