How the Credit Reporting Agencies Are Screwing You Over

Your financial success depends on the accuracy and fairness of the credit reporting agencies. Yet, all three of the big credit bureaus – Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax – have already been slapped with substantial fines in 2017 because of their deceptive practices. Here’s what the credit report agencies have been up to this year and what you should do to protect yourself.

TransUnion and Equifax Rack Up More than $23 Million in Fines and Restitution

Early this year, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the government bureau in charge of oversight of the credit agencies, fined Equifax and TransUnion $5.5 million and ordered that they pay over $17.6 million in restitution to consumers. The CFPB pointed to violations of the Dodd-Frank Act that date back to as early as 2011. The companies:
  • ·         Tricked consumers into signing up for subscription programs
  • ·         Violated the Fair Credit Report Act
  • ·         Lied to clients about the value of the credit scores there were selling

Experian Fined $3 Million for Inaccurate Credit Scores

Not wanting to be left out, Experian was recently saddled with $3 million in fines after the CFPB accused them of lying to consumers about their credit scores. They found that Experian was preparing different scores for lenders and consumers. In fact, in some instances, the differences were drastic. The CFPB claims the deceptive practices took place between 2012 and 2014, but that just highlights the possibility think that they have not caught the more recent indiscretions.

What You Can Do to Avoid Being Screwed

The inaccuracy and outright deceitfulness of the credit reporting agencies are nothing new. In fact, comedian John Oliver did a segment on the pitfalls of the credit bureaus over a year ago. And, it has only gotten worse. So, what can you do?

The best way to keep track of your credit score is to check it frequently. You can get a free report from all three of the agencies each year. If you see anything you do not agree with, collect as much information on it as you can and challenge it. You have the right to challenge inaccurate credit reports.

If you apply for positions or loans that require the collection of your credit report, ask the lender or employer to share the score with you. Make sure it is accurate. If not, contact the CFPB through their website and lodge a complaint. That said, the CFPB is one of many government bureaus and agencies that are constantly experiencing budget cuts. Talk to lawmakers to ensure the CFPB continues to receive funding, so they can protect consumers’ rights.

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