Credit reports are a necessary evil. Creditors pull a copy any time you borrow money, landlords use them to determine whether you are a safe bet, and employers in some states still use them to determine your ability to manage financial affairs.
No Built-In Protections
The problem is, credit reports are routinely riddled with errors. Debt management companies work with clients every day who are hounded by inaccurate information and in need of credit repair. Like being accused of robbing a convenience store when you are actually home in bed, it is up to you - the consumer - to disprove inaccurate information included on your report and repair credit. The three major credit bureaus have thus far made it a practice to do little more than collect data and sell that information to those who want to see it. Whether or not that data is correct is of little concern as long as they continue to make a profit.
States Become Involved
Now comes news that the state of Mississippi has sued the world's largest credit bureau, Experian. The lawsuit contends that paperwork errors and sloppy consumer protection are rampant. Experian has gone so far as to report that some consumers are on a terrorists watch list. While it is Mississippi leading the fight against the massive agency, 32 other states are currently investigating the industry as a whole.
They ask how fair it is for a person to be denied a job or loan due to errors included on a credit report. According to Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood, the company knows that the credit files of millions of Americans contain grievous errors, and yet refuse to do anything to correct the situation. Credit bureau are not the consumer's friend and do not exist to give credit tips or help the consumer build their credit score. Even as states come after them, it seems that as a whole the industry refuses to back down.
Three Major Bureaus, Three Sources of Trouble
All three of the major credit bureaus - Experian, TransUnion and Equifax - gather information from banks, landlords, debt collectors, and any other source that might provide a snapshot of personal finance habits. Although it is an open secret that these credit reports are often laughably inaccurate banks and some prospective employers still look to them to help determine a person's financial stability.
The Mississippi suit also alleges that Experian provides no easy way for consumers to correct those glaring mistakes, regardless of how an individual may be impacted by the errors to their report. When Experian does respond to a customer complaint, more often than not they find in favor of the debt collector or banking institution that reported the black mark. After all, it is essential to keep their paying customers happy.
Neither the credit bureau or its trade group, the Consumer Data Industry Association, are willing to discuss the law suit or answer any questions about their lingering practices.
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