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AG Zoeller Announces $6 Million Settlement with Credit Reporting Agencies to Strengthen Consumer Protections
Start Date: 5/22/2015 All Day
End Date: 5/22/2015
Entry Description

AG Zoeller Announces $6 Million Settlement with Credit
Reporting Agencies to Strengthen Consumer Protections

Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion Agree to Significant Changes

INDIANAPOLIS – Attorney General Greg Zoeller and 30 other state attorneys general announced a major settlement with the three national credit reporting agencies – Equifax Information Services LLC, Experian Information Solutions Inc., and TransUnion LLC – to strengthen consumer protections in the credit reporting process.

Under the settlement, the credit reporting agencies have agreed to pay the participating states $6 million and to make a number of changes to their business practices to benefit consumers.

“An individual’s credit is key to their financial stability and livelihood, and yet it is very difficult for people to identify and correct errors on their credit report which can have devastating consequences,” Zoeller said. “Today’s settlement adds more accuracy and transparency to the credit reporting process. This is especially critical given the rise in identity theft and other financial crimes.”

 

The multi-state investigation focused on consumer disputes about credit report errors, monitoring and disciplining data furnishers (providers of credit reporting information), accuracy in consumer credit reports, and the marketing of credit monitoring products to consumers who call the credit reporting agencies to dispute information on their credit report. 

Under the settlement, the credit reporting agencies have agreed to increase monitoring of data furnishers, to require additional information from furnishers of certain types of data, to limit direct-to-consumer marketing, to provide greater protections for consumers who dispute information on their credit reports, to limit certain information that can be added to a credit report, to provide additional consumer education, and to comply with state and federal laws, including the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

Key provisions of the settlement include:

Higher standards for data furnishers:

  • The credit reporting agencies must maintain information about problem data furnishers and provide a list of those furnishers to the states upon request.
  • The credit reporting agencies and data furnishers must use a better, more detailed system to share data.

Limits to direct-to-consumer marketing:

  • The credit reporting agencies cannot market credit monitoring services to a consumer during a dispute phone call until the dispute portion of the call has ended.
  • The credit reporting agencies must tell consumers that purchasing a product is not a requirement for disputing information on their credits reports.

Added protections for consumers who dispute credit reporting information:

  • The credit reporting agencies must implement an escalated process for handling complicated disputes, such as those involving identity theft, fraud, or mixed files — where one consumer’s information is mixed with another’s.
  • Each credit reporting agency must notify the other agencies if it finds that one consumer’s information has been mixed with another’s.
  • The credit reporting agencies must send a consumer’s supporting documents to the data furnisher. (The credit reporting agencies implemented this change after the attorneys general initiated their investigation and raised the concern that the pertinent complaint documents were not being sent to the furnishers.)
  • Consumers may obtain one additional free credit report in a 12-month period if they dispute information on their credit report and a change is made as a result of the dispute.

Limits to certain information that can be added to a consumer’s credit report:

  • The credit reporting agencies are generally prohibited from adding information about fines and tickets to credit reports.
  • The credit reporting agencies cannot place medical debt on a credit report until 180 days after the account is reported to the credit reporting agency, which gives consumers time to work out issues with their insurance companies.
  • The credit reporting agencies must require debt collectors to provide the original creditor’s name and information about the debt before the debt information can be added to a credit report.

Additional consumer education:

  • The credit reporting agencies must tell consumers how they can further dispute the outcome of an investigation into a dispute, such as by filing a complaint with other agencies.
  • Each credit reporting agency must provide a link to its online dispute website on the website www.annualcreditreport.com, and the credit reporting agency’s dispute website must be free of ads and any marketing offers.

The changes required under the settlement will be implemented in three phases to allow the credit reporting agencies to update their IT systems and procedures with data furnishers. All changes must be completed by three years and 90 days following the settlement’s effective date.

Under the approved agreement, Indiana will receive $142,636.47 in the settlement to be used for consumer education on guarding against identity theft and monitoring credit.

Other states that participated in the settlement include: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, and Wisconsin.

Contact Information:
Name: Jaime Barb
Phone: 317-234-8105
Email: jaime.barb@atg.in.gov
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  • IN.gov Category:
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