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Media > Newsletters > Consumer Advocate > July 2015 > Major National Settlement with Credit Reporting Agencies

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Major National Settlement with Credit Reporting Agencies

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and 30 other state attorneys general recently announced a major settlement with the three main credit reporting agencies — Equifax Information Services LLC, Experian Information Solutions Inc., and TransUnion LLC. Under the settlement, the credit reporting agencies have agreed to make a number of changes to their business practices to benefit consumers.
“The settlement will help protect consumers from credit reports that are wrong, out of date, or even mixed up with someone else’s report, and it will reduce the chance that a consumer is wrongly denied a house loan, a car loan, or even a job, because of an inaccurate credit report,” Attorney General DeWine said.
The settlement is the result of a multistate investigation that Attorney General DeWine initiated in 2012. The investigation focused on 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.
Key provisions of the settlement include:
Higher standards for data furnishers:
  • The credit reporting agencies must maintain information about problematic 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 a new process for handling complicated disputes, such as those involving identity theft, fraud, or mixed files (in which one consumer’s information is mixed with another’s).
  • Each credit reporting agency must notify the other agencies if it finds a mixed file.
  • 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 adding information 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 adding the debt information to a credit report.
Additional consumer education:
  • The credit reporting agencies must tell consumers how they can further challenge the outcome of an investigation into a dispute, such as by filing a complaint with other credit reporting agencies.
  • Each credit reporting agency must provide a link to its online dispute website on the website, and the credit reporting agency’s dispute website must be free of ads and any marketing offers.
Under the settlements, the credit reporting agencies also will pay the participating states $6 million. As the lead state, Ohio received $460,000 under the settlement.
Consumers who want to learn more or receive help from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office should visit or call 800-282-0515.