Dispatch Investigation -- Credit Scars
Columbus Dispatch (OH)
May 6, 2012
Riepenhoff, Jill; Wagner, Mike
While credit reporting mistakes are common and often seem to be small matters, they actually can cause widespread damage that can block consumers' access to credit, prevent them from getting a job, and keep them from joining the military, among other things. Moreover, federal credit reporting laws reportedly are rife with loopholes and obstacles that make correcting such mistakes difficult, if not impossible. The problem is believed to be widespread, propelling U.S. lawmakers to call for reform. The Columbus Dispatch conducted a yearlong investigation into the matter, analyzing nearly 30,000 consumer complaints filed with the Federal Trade Commission and attorneys general in 24 states that alleged violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act by Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. The analysis found that common mistakes reported to the credit monitoring agencies include incorrect birth date, name, and even death status. Additionally, nearly a quarter of the complaints to the FTC and more than half of the complaints to attorneys general involved mistakes in consumers' financial accounts for credit cards, mortgages, or auto loans. But more than half of all consumers who filed complaints with the federal agency said they were unable to persuade the credit-reporting agencies to make corrections. Additionally, more than 21 percent of individuals who complained to the FTC and more than 38 percent who contacted an attorney general said that they were denied access to their credit report. Many consumers also complained that they were unable to reach anyone by telephone at the credit-reporting agencies to assist them in resolving the issues. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has been tasked with working to resolve the systematic issues.
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