Credit Bureaus Under Increasing Scrutiny from Feds and Consumers Alike

A little-known governmental entity—the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)—plays a significant, if unnoticed, role in American consumers’ lives. And it could get even bigger. That’s because one of the CFPB’s chief responsibilities is tracking, analyzing, and investigating consumers’ complaints against the national credit reporting agencies. It’s becoming increasingly clear there’s a concern with credit reporting, especially regarding the three major bureaus—Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.

According to the CFPB, of the complaints they received between January 2020 and September 2021, more than 50% of the complaints were about one of those three firms. The bureaus have been less responsive than in the past. For example, in 2019, 25% of complaining consumers said their issues had been resolved. By 2021, just two percent said their problems were fixed.

Furthermore, the CFPB reported that the largest bureaus didn’t seem to be complying with requirements on how to handle complaints. They relied on boilerplate responses that didn’t suggest any meaningful investigation or resolution on the bureaus’ parts. TransUnion and Equifax were said to have relied on sending complaints to a dispute channel rather than seeing if the customer had a legitimate grievance.

What’s significant to realize is that these pro forma responses suggest that these credit bureaus are abusing their monopolist hold on consumers’ financial well-being. The bureaus amass data that determines if someone will be eligible for a mortgage and how much interest they’ll pay on a credit card. It may determine whether someone can rent a place to live or get a job. Yet there’s little evidence that the bureaus care if that data is wrong, even when the stakes for individuals are so high.

Whether this leads to further regulation or other action is unclear, but the CFPB is troubled by the findings. CFPB Director Rohit Chopra was quoted as having said, “America’s credit reporting oligopoly has little incentive to treat consumers fairly when their credit reports have errors. Today’s report is further evidence of the serious harms stemming from their faulty financial surveillance business model.”

If you need help dealing with a credit bureau about errors on your report, contact an attorney at Credit Report Law Group who specializes in representing clients like you—a lawyer who can help you repair your record and obtain compensation for any damages you sustained.