The Equifax data breach came to light back in September 2017 — and consumers are still fuming.
Complaints about credit reporting, credit repair services and issues such as errors on individual consumer credit reports made up 43% of all the complaints made to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, according to an analysis by the U.S. PIRG Education Fund.
That’s up from 23% of total complaints back in 2016, before the Equifax breach.
The analysis looked at data from 2011, when the CFPB began collecting complaints, to Jan. 14, which is when PIRG downloaded the data to review.
CFPB, a federal consumer watchdog agency, published a record 257,000 consumer complaints in 2018, according to the PIRG analysis. That brings the total complaints to nearly 1.2 million in seven years.
Complaints might include issues with a payday lender who won’t stop withdrawing money from a bank account, difficulty dealing with a student loan servicer, or problems involving mortgage lenders.
Oddly enough, all the complaints made to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau are mired in another controversy, too.
Consumer watchdogs, such as PIRG, fear that one day the federal agency will hide such complaints from public view.
Kathy Kraninger, the new director of the bureau, told Reuters in April that discussions were ongoing regarding how the public complaints database, a key source of the bureau’s investigations, should operate.
According to the Reuters interview, Kraninger acknowledged the database, which went public to boost transparency, supported the bureau’s mission to protect borrowers. But she did not rule out making it private.
How the agency protects consumers
In general, the agency’s database has helped consumers get timely responses, see their problems resolved and receive their money back in some cases.
More than 223,000 complaints resulted in relief for consumers, often with consumers getting money back from the companies they complained about. Throughout its history, the CFPB has secured $12.4 billion in relief for more than 31 million wronged consumers and acted against companies that break the law.
“And that’s precisely why the database is made public,” said Mike Litt, PIRG’s consumer campaign director.
The reality is that some companies would love to keep consumers in the dark when there are a string of complaints involving an ongoing concern.
Legislators seek fines when data is compromised
Just go back to the Equifax data breach back in 2017. The massive digital break-in took place sometime between May 13, 2017, and July 30, 2017. When did consumers find out that vital information, including Social Security numbers, was now at risk? Early September of that year.
The anger remains: U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and a group of congressional Democrats reintroduced legislation this year which would require credit reporting agencies to pay $100 for each consumer whose personal data is compromised.
“Under this bill, Equifax would have paid at least a $1.5 billion penalty for their failure to protect Americans’ personal information,” according to Warren’s announcement relating to the bill.
Such a steep, mandatory penalty is viewed as bad policy by the industry, according to Francis Creighton, president & CEO for the Consumer Data Industry Association in Washington, D.C.
“No one would be able to afford the fines that are envisioned in this bill,” he said.
He noted that the investigation by the Federal Trade Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau relating to the Equifax breach is ongoing and it’s expected that financial penalties ultimately will be part of the picture. An exact timeline isn’t known.
The fury that continues, of course, is fueled by the fact that hackers stole personal information involving 145.5 million people.
A report called “Breach of Trust” — which was issued May 7 by Warren and other Congressional Democrats — charged that more than 18 months after the breach was announced consumers continue to file complaints against Equifax at a higher rate than before the breach.
In the 18 months between Sept. 7, 2017, when Equifax announced the breach, and March 6, 2019, consumers filed 52,031 complaints with the CFPB related to Equifax, according to the report prepared by U.S. Sens. Warren, Mark Warner, D-Va., Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, and U.S. Rep, Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill.
Incorrect information is leading complaint
More than 18,000 complaints — representing 60% of all complaints about Equifax — are about incorrect information on consumer credit reports, the report states. Problems include complaints that Equifax failed to remove incorrect information from credit reports despite consumers contacting Equifax several times, and despite both Experian and TransUnion removing the same information, the summary stated.
Perhaps we should not be surprised that credit reporting issues dominate the list of complaints, given how hard it can be dispute a credit error.
Credit reporting complaints to the CFPB in 2018 were more than double the second most common subject of complaints — debt collection.
About 61% of consumers who complained to the CFPB about credit issues had trouble involving incorrect information on their credit reports.
It’s not a small point, considering that you’re shut out of attractive rates on credit cards or car loans if your credit report is filled with bad marks. You’re not going to get a super low advertised loan rate if you’ve got bad credit. (It’s wise to review your credit report for free each year. See www.annualcreditreport.com.)
Despite significant reforms in the past 10 years, systemic inaccuracies still wrongly hurt the credit snapshot of many consumers, according to research by the National Consumer Law Center.
The industry notes, though, that the size of the problem could look worse than it is given the hundreds of millions of consumers with credit reports. In some cases, the disputes are with the banks, not the credit reporting agencies, Creighton said.
Even so, he acknowledged that mistakes are made.
“We do make mistakes. When we do make mistakes, we try to fix them,” Creighton said.
Here are some common mistakes
Sometimes, one consumer’s file is wrongly “mixed” with another person. Consumer watchdogs blame some loose matching criteria, which can help ensure that users of credit reports, including lenders and others, don’t miss out on possible negative information.
In some cases, negative information may wrongly remain on a credit report even after court judgments or legal settlements declare that a consumer doesn’t owe a debt.
And there are the after-effects of identity theft, such as when the credit bureaus and creditors don’t believe the victim.
In some cases, a consumer may even be labeled dead when they’re very much alive.
An account or debt can be attributed to the wrong consumer or a payment history may be incorrectly recorded.
How errors impact consumers
“These errors can cost a consumer thousands of dollars in higher-priced credit, or worse yet, result in the denial of a job, insurance coverage, an apartment rental, the ability to open a small business, or to buy a house,” said Chi Chi Wu, staff attorney of the National Consumer Law Center in testimony in Washington in February
She noted that a definitive Federal Trade Commission study on credit reporting errors found that 1 in 5 consumers has verified errors in his or her credit report. And 1 in 20 consumers has errors so serious that he or she would be denied credit or need to pay more for it.
What’s important to know is that consumers do have some options for addressing the mistakes and bringing to light bad interactions with credit bureaus.
What consumers can do to address mistakes
Consumers don’t have the option of just deciding not to do business with the big players, such as Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
“A consumer can respond to wrongdoing by a bank, for example, by simply choosing a competitor,” the PIRG report noted.
“But with credit bureaus, you cannot vote with your feet. The bureaus collect and sell your information without your consent, which is why strong oversight by the CFPB is needed.”
Federal law gives you the right to dispute and request an investigation when you spot an error in your credit report. When you submit a dispute, the credit reporting agency must investigate the item in question usually within 30 days — unless they consider your dispute frivolous.
When the dispute is resolved, the credit reporting agency must give you the written results and a free copy of your credit report if the dispute results in a change.
If you’re not satisfied and the credit reporting agency refuses to correct the information you’ve disputed, you have options. And you can file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. See www.consumerfinance.gov/complaint. Or call 855-411-2372.
Consumers should file the same complaint with their state Attorney General. In Michigan, consumers can go to mi.gov/agcomplaints to file a complaint about a credit reporting agency.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau enables consumers to submit complaints after they’ve been unsuccessful trying to fix a problem involving a long list of financial issues
Submitting a complaint, of course, isn’t all about just you. The federal agency is able to use such data to target specific problems in an industry. And you can scan the complaint database to discover if others are running into the same hassle as you.
But in many cases, experts say, situations can be resolved. About 97% of the complaints received by the CFPB received a timely response from financial service companies.
New York, May 11, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The unpredictability of the 2020 economy had very few positives to report on. However, one ray of light across the board was that the average FICO score for U.S consumers hit a record 710 last year, with millennials leading the way, boasting an 11-point increase.
Credit scores are important for millennials. Aged between 25-34, they are the generation who grew up during a changing financial climate, where more emphasis was placed on having a good FICO score in order to be approved for the likes of mortgages, auto loans and credit cards.
Yet not all US millennials had such a good year when it came to credit. Many are still struggling to gain the financial backing they need for both their personal and business life, and as a result aren’t benefiting from lower interest rates, higher credit limits, or access to better offers.
If you’re a millennial looking for credit repair, the team at Credit Planned is helping your generation get back on track:
Credit Planned is a platform that educates users on financial literacy to help them improve their credit and better plan their financial lives. A pioneer in credit repair, personal and business credit building, and funding solutions, they offer free online advice and how-to guides, alongside free over-the-phone consultations, to help people repair, improve, and maintain great credit.
With over 1,500 happy clients, each month they secure over $50,000 in funding and boost over 100 credit scores.
2. How can Credit Planned help millennials improve credit scores and access financial funding?
Above all else, Credit Planned can provide clear, actionable consultation on a case-by-case basis. As they experts when it comes to the financial industry, you will be given help and advice that will truly make the difference.
If your credit score has become a barrier to entry and approval for the likes of mortgages and loans, there are basic things you can do to quickly improve your score. While some are achievable from your side, some will need expert knowledge of the financial industry, both of which Credit Planned can help with.
Securing funding from banks can be made more achievable with an improved credit score. However, where real gains can be made is through leveraging the relationships Credit Planned have with these banks to secure 0% interest funding (anywhere from 50-150k) for 1-3 years.
Corporate Credit Blueprint
Many business owners aren’t aware of the power of business credit, and some don’t even know how to affects your personal score directly. Credit Planned can help optimize your business credit, no matter the size of your business, and open the doors to help your business grow.
3. Put past decisions and improper financial education behind you
Credit Planned are helping millennials who didn’t receive a financial education build the knowledge to prosper once more. From debunking credit mythics to posting great tips via their Facebook page, their online resources are an invaluable addition for anybody who is looking to improve their credit score and secure funding.
Book a free consultation and get your credit score on track
A good credit score indicates that you know how to manage your budget and make good financial decisions. Woven into most key systems in our society, it’s something that needs to be addressed should it be halting your progress in any walk of life.
Book a free consultation via the website, or by calling (877) 650-5116
Credit Planned are a pioneer in credit repair, personal and business credit building, and funding solutions. Don’t be afraid to scale your business or become financially independent. Read our advice, speak to us via a free consultation, and start building your credit today. Learn more via the website: https://creditplanned.com/.
On average, one in five Americans has an unfair credit score. Mistakes on reports from bureaus are quite common. They range from misspellings to events that never happened. A false bankruptcy may tarnish your records for up to a decade! Experts may have such errors erased, so your FICO total will rise immediately. These services are not free, but what is the best value for money?
Credit repair is a highly competitive industry. As a result, the best credit agencies on Credit Fixed have to offer reasonable pricing. Customers are always charged depending on the length of the billing cycle (e.g., 30-45 days). In addition, there could be an upfront fee.
Cost vs. Duration
Repair is a lengthy process. Although professionals speed it up, you still need several months (between 2 and 6) to clean your records. The most complex cases linger for a year. Trusted companies allow you to stop using their services at any time. Still, the longer — the more expensive.
Today, monthly rates from the most popular providers range between $79 and $129.95. If the upfront fee applies, it may be equal to the monthly payment or different. For example, with Sky Blue Credit, you pay $79 upon enrollment and $79 monthly.
Compare Service Levels
As you can see from this Sky Blue Credit vs Lexington Law review, not every company divides its services between packages. The first provider offers a universal solution that is also modestly priced. The competitor has three tiers, from basic to advanced.
This second scheme is the most common in the industry. Consumers choose cheaper or more expensive bundles depending on their needs. The tiers often include different numbers of disputes. For example, you may be able to disprove five items per bureau per billing cycle.
In addition to analysis and disputes, premium clients may get identity theft insurance, score tracking tools, and personal budgeting solutions. The biggest firms provide their proprietary apps — for instance, the Lexington Law app is highly rated in both Google Play and App Store. On the other hand, almost every company will let you track the status of your case through their web portal.
What You Are Paying For
While add-ons vary, the core services are the same. Any company will collect your reports from three major bureaus — TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. The staff will scrutinize the records in search of debatable inaccuracies. Next, they will collect evidence and send dispute letters to bureaus on your behalf. Eventually, the errors should be eliminated, which pushes the total up immediately.
This describes the mission of any repair firm. It will help you fix your status more quickly. After all, experts can identify the most damaging mistakes and collect sufficient evidence from the get-go. In the process, they may also send different types of correspondence to lenders and collectors. This includes:
debt validation letters asking the lender to prove that you owe the specified amount;
goodwill letters asking them to stop reporting particular items;
cease and desist letters to collectors, do they stop bothering you.
Repair companies may eliminate different types of mistakes. However, only some of them can delete hard inquiries. Ideally, such items are created when you apply for a loan and the lender checks your credit history. Too many hard inquiries over a short period are damaging to the total.
No company can guarantee specific results. The professionals will not promise to increase the total by a certain number of points. However, you may get your money back if the firm is inefficient. Check the conditions of its money-back guarantee (if it exists).
Most commonly, clients are paid back if no entries are deleted within the first 60 or 90 days. Removal of a single item voids this guarantee. In exceptional cases, the policy is unconditional. At the moment, it is only provided by Sky Blue Credit Repair. You may stop using the services for any reason within the first 90 days and get a refund.
As there are so many companies, choosing the right provider is not easy. Consider the BBB ratings and genuine feedback from consumers on sites like TrustPilot. Check if the firm delivers on its promises. It must provide excellent support, while the absence of a money-back guarantee is a legitimate deal breaker.
Your FICO or VantageScore status depends on the contents of your credit reports. Unfortunately, data stored by TransUnion, Equifax, or Experian may be inaccurate. Correction of mistakes will make your score rise. However, this is not an overnight process.
The duration depends on the number of false entries, the bureaus involved, and the quality of the evidence submitted. Experts from top-rated credit repair companies at https://creditrepairpartner.com/ will give a tentative evaluation. If you open disputes by yourself, resolution may take longer. It may require a couple of months or half a year. Here are the basics of credit repair in the US in 2021
Why You Need a Higher Total
Many consumers suppose their credit score only affects borrowing. The lower the total — the more difficult and expensive it is to take out a loan. In reality, the consequences are more varied. Aside from banks, your credit history is accessed by landlords, insurers, and even employers. You may fail to land your dream job because your score is far from perfect.
Causes of Deterioration
This may happen fairly or unfairly. In any case, deterioration stems from negative information on your credit reports. Items like missed payments or evictions pull the score down. Some consumers have to remove bankruptcies and judgments that never happened. Even your personal details may be flawed, although correcting the wrong spelling does not affect the total.
Both systems (FICO and VantageScore) look at similar factors for the calculation. The three most influential elements for the first method are:
history of payments (35% of the score)
how much you owe in total (30%)
length of credit history (15%)
Your credit mix (use of different types of credit) and new accounts affect 10% each. As you can see, late or missed payments, bankruptcies, and defaults are extremely damaging. Another crucial aspect is your ‘credit utilization ratio’, which applies to revolving credit — i.e., credit cards.
The lower your balance in comparison with the total amount of credit — the better. For example, if the limit is $5,000, and you have used $2,500, the ratio is too high (50%). Experts recommend keeping it below 30% or 11%, depending on who you ask.
The Fixing Process
So, what should you do if your reports contain wrong amounts or false entries? First, you are not alone. On average, every 5th consumer in the US has mistakes on their official records. Fortunately, everyone can have errors deleted to raise the total. There are two ways to go about it. You could try doing everything by yourself or hire repair experts. Either way, here is what the process involves.
1. Collection of Data
Every US citizen may get a free annual copy of their report from each of the three major bureaus. Due to the pandemic, the service is now accessible every week. Go to www.annualcreditreport.com to collect data from TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian at once.
Downloading it online is the fastest way, but you may also call the organization or send them a request by mail. If you hire a fixing company, they will collect this information for you. You may also get a free introductory consultation.
2. Identification of False Derogatories
Next, you (or the expert) will need to establish inaccuracies. Note that credit reporting agencies do not share data with one another. Any or all of your reports may be flawed, which complicates the process.
As you can see from the score breakdown above, different categories of items affect the total differently. Credit repair professionals will prioritize the mistakes to fix the score faster.
Collection of Evidence
When the report is inaccurate, it is your job to prove this. A repair firm will gather evidence on your behalf. This includes bank statements and other documents showing that the damaging entries are false. Professionals also send debt validation letters to your lenders. These ask them to prove that you owe the amount specified in the reports. As you can imagine, the duration of this stage varies. The more mistakes you want to be removed — the more evidence must be gathered.
4. Formal Disputes
Armed with the evidence, you may now send formal dispute letters to the reporting agency (or agencies) involved. The bureau will investigate the claim and reply to you within 30 days. It may accept or reject the changes. Alternatively, additional proof may be required.
The Bottom Line
As you can see, fixing the score in under 30 days is next to impossible. You need to collect the reports, analyze them and gather evidence to support your claims. It is crucial to provide conclusive proof, so there is no back and forth between you and the bureaus.
The simplest cases may be resolved and just over a month. The most complex repair may last a full year. Generally, delegating this job to professionals will accelerate the result. The key is to choose a reliable firm that delivers on its promises. Check websites like BBB and TrustPilot for customer feedback, and make sure the company has a money-back guarantee for your peace of mind.