Friday, January 30, 2015
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Miss. sues credit-reporting firm, alleging errors

Jim Hood

This May 6, 2013, file photo shows Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood speaking in Jackson, Miss. Mississippi has sued credit reporting giant Experian, alleging sweeping errors in the company’s data and routine violations of consumer protection laws. Mississippi’s action – and a previously unreported multi-state investigation of credit bureaus led by Ohio – represent a significant new legal challenge to the industry. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)

By
June 18, 2014 |

WASHINGTON — Mississippi has sued Experian, the world’s largest firm that collects detailed information about consumers to evaluate their financial trustworthiness. The lawsuit – and a separate investigation of the industry by 32 other states led by Ohio – represent a significant new legal challenge to the industry over allegations of paperwork errors and violations of consumer protection laws.

Errors can jeopardize people’s ability to get loans and pass job-related background checks. Experian has even wrongly reported that consumers are on a federal terrorism watch list, the lawsuit alleges.

Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood’s complaint accuses Experian Information Solutions of knowingly including error-riddled data in the credit files of millions of Americans, jeopardizing their ability to obtain loans, employment-related background checks and sensitive government security clearances.

The lawsuit against Experian was filed without fanfare last month in a Biloxi state courthouse and transferred to Mississippi federal court late last week.

Experian and its competitors gather and maintain records of consumers’ credit history from banks, debt collectors and other sources, keeping files on more than 200 million Americans. Banks, prospective employers and other parties pay the credit bureaus to review this data, using it to determine whether a borrower is financially stable and a good credit risk. Consumers with blemishes like missed credit card payments or recent bankruptcies on their credit will struggle to get loans, while those with a long record of timely debt repayment are courted by lenders.

Both Experian and a spokesman for its trade group, the Consumer Data Industry Association, declined to discuss the litigation or related questions about the quality of the company’s data.

Despite the errors added to credit files, the Mississippi lawsuit said, Experian provides no straightforward way for consumers to correct erroneous blemishes affecting them. When consumers file a dispute, Experian reflexively finds in favor of the bank or debt collector that reported the debt, Mississippi said. And when consumers call to complain, the lawsuit said Experian employees attempt to sell consumers credit monitoring products of questionable value.

“Experian has turned its failures to maintain accurate credit reports and its refusal to investigate consumer disputes into a business opportunity,” Hood, a Democrat, said in a statement.

In Ohio, Republican Attorney General Mike DeWine has regularly criticized the credit bureaus for inadequate quality control and consumer protections. Attorneys general nationwide have demanded and received records from both Experian and its primary competitors, TransUnion and Equifax. Experian is the largest of the companies, with revenues of $4.8 billion last year.

Equifax also warned shareholders in February that it was under investigation by Ohio and 31 other states, separate from the similar investigations of the industry by Mississippi and New York, and also under investigation by the CFPB. The list of states working with Ohio has not been disclosed by that state. “We are unable to predict the outcomes of these investigations, including whether the investigations will result in any actions or proceedings being brought against us,” the company said.

TransUnion warned investors in February about the multi-state investigation, along with separate investigations by Mississippi and New York, and said it was providing internal documents to investigators. “We do not believe we have violated any law and intend to vigorously defend any claim that may result from these investigations,” the company said.

The key allegations in Mississippi’s complaint are not entirely new: consumer advocates, plaintiffs’ attorneys, the Federal Trade Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau have assailed credit bureaus for inadequately addressing erroneous credit reports. According to an FTC study, 5 percent of all consumers’ credit reports contain errors that could harm their ability to obtain credit.

TransUnion said the multi-state investigation led by Ohio was prompted by reporting in 2012 about improper or questionable industry practices by The Columbus Dispatch newspaper.

Experian warned investors earlier this year that the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and its British counterpart were regulatory agencies responsible for protecting consumers and said, “It remains uncertain how these bodies may affect our credit and consumer business processes and business models in the future.”

Experian also told investors that, to the best of its knowledge, it complies with data protection requirements but warned that, “We might fail to comply with international, federal, regional, provincial, state or other jurisdictional regulations, due to their complexity, frequent changes or inconsistent application and interpretation.”

Experian’s alleged misconduct has harmed Mississippi consumers, the lawsuit said. Because of the company’s alleged failure to maintain reasonable procedures to verify credit information and correct mistakes — a violation of the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act — it said consumers have been wrongly hounded for debts they did not owe, blocked from taking out loans and threatened with the loss of top secret military clearances.

Mississippi alleges that even simple errors in Experian files – such as a credit file that wrongly stated that a Mississippi resident described in the complaint as “Consumer 5″ was dead – can prove nearly impossible to fix.

“At first, Consumer 5 and his wife thought it was funny,” the complaint said. But months later, his unsuccessful efforts to fix the error cost him the ability to purchase a truck at a favorable interest rate.

In another example cited in the Mississippi complaint, a lieutenant colonel in the Army National Guard was denied credit and forced to buy numerous credit monitoring services due to Experian’s failure to distinguish between his credit history and those of other people in his family. Mississippi also alleges that consumers have lost access to the financial system after Experian wrongly confused their credit files with those of people on a U.S. Treasury Department terrorist watch list.

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

Solano summit focuses on ways to end poverty

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A1, 23 Comments | Gallery

 
 
Teens earn right to perform with symphony

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
From classical to Queen: Chamber Players are ready

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Photographer has a passion for color

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
 
Cadets learn skills for future careers

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
 
‘Souper Bowl’ coming to Solano County

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A4

 
SolTrans announces changes to bus routes

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A5

Fairfield police log: Jan. 28, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12, 2 Comments

 
Suisun City police log: Jan. 28, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

.

US / World

California’s snow survey shows far less snow than last month

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
State to move more than 2,000 inmates

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Boy Scouts reaches settlement in sex abuse case

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Protestors shun sister-city relationship

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
City event criticized for Mexican mafia connection

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Tech advances lower chance that driver will die in car crash

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Police: Family killed man over child custody dispute

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Killer says his ideas influenced family suicide

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
NASA astronaut memorial stirs memories for shuttle veteran

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

‘Anonymized’ credit card data not so anonymous, study shows

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Fort Hood gunman Hasan says he wants to keep top lawyer

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Attorney General nominee wins GOP endorsements

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Simultaneous attacks in Egypt’s Sinai kill 26

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Indonesian investigators: Crashed AirAsia flown by co-pilot

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10 | Gallery

 
Gas blast at Mexico children’s hospital, at least 2 dead

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10 | Gallery

Families plead for lives of IS hostages as swap hopes fade

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Deadly San Francisco blaze spurs look at fire alarms

By T. Burt McNaughton | From Page: A12 | Gallery

 
.

Opinion

Editorial Cartoon: Jan. 30, 2015

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
 
 
.

Living

Today in History: Jan. 30, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: Jan. 30, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

My cousin’s 14-year-old son sleeps in the same bed as his grandma

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A9

 
Horoscopes: Jan. 30, 2015

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

.

Entertainment

Week in preview Jan. 30 through Feb. 5, 2015

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

 
Hilary Duff, George Lopez help in search for stolen dog

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Justin Bieber apologizes for bad behavior in online video

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Musician Geezer Butler arrested in Death Valley altercation

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Lil Wayne sues mentor’s record label for $51M, seeking split

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Jim Parsons to play God in Broadway’s ‘An Act of God’

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande to pay tribute to Stevie Wonder

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Review: A tired gimmick weakens thriller ‘Project Almanac’

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

‘The Thorn Birds’ author Colleen McCullough dies at age 77

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Bernie Mac widow drops malpractice lawsuit against doctor

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Entertainment Calendar: Jan. 30, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: B4

 
Desert stars: Celebs converge on Phoenix for Super Bowl 49

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
.

Sports

Serena aims for 19th major in Aussie final vs. Sharapova

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
Marshawn Lynch talks about why he doesn’t talk to the media

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
Vanden boys pull away from feisty Fairfield 86-66

By Brian Arnold | From Page: B7

Gronkowski and Chancellor make for must-see Super Bowl matchup

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
This date in sports history for Jan. 30, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

Signups for Friday, Jan. 30, 2015

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B9

 
.

Business

Chevrolet polishes its mid-size truck

By Ann M. Job | From Page: C1 | Gallery

 
Prospect of Chinese cars in US still remain years away

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

Obama seeks spending spike for defense, domestic

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11, 1 Comment

 
Who wants a bite of Hershey…jerky?

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

Senate passes Keystone XL bill, battles loom

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11, 1 Comment

 
McDonald’s under siege as new CEO steps in

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

.

Obituaries

Gloria Elizabeth Neal

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
Joseph Phillip Raiff

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 3 Comments

Dzhon Athanc

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9