New York Attorney General and Credit Bureaus Reach Deal Affecting Furnishers of Information to Credit Bureaus

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The New York Attorney General announced a settlement with credit bureaus Equifax, Experian and TransUnion regarding credit reporting policies and practices, including methods of addressing inaccuracies identified by consumers. In addition to changes to the credit bureaus’ error resolution practices, the settlement also requires the credit bureaus to analyze and monitor the performance of furnishers, i.e., the third parties, including lenders, that provide consumer data to the credit bureaus in the first instance. The settlement requires the credit bureaus to take certain steps in both data gathering and dispute investigation that will place increased burdens on furnishers. For example, when responding to a dispute, furnishers will be required to affirm that they have reviewed any images of documentation provided to the furnisher by the credit bureau. Under the agreement, credit bureaus must reject data furnished by lenders who have been identified by the Attorney General as “illegal lenders” under New York law. Finally, the agreement provides a grace period before medical debt appears on credit reports.

BACKGROUND -

The New York Attorney General investigated the three nationwide credit bureaus operating in the United States, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. The investigation focused on (1) the accuracy of consumer credit information maintained by these credit bureaus, (2) the bureaus’ practices regarding investigation of consumer disputes of alleged inaccuracies in credit reports, and (3) the reporting of medical debt in credit reports. The result of the investigation was a settlement agreement requiring several potentially significant changes to the manner in which information must be furnished to the bureaus, the correction process when errors are identified, and how the bureaus must monitor furnishers in the ordinary course. The settlement agreement did not contain any findings of violations by the credit bureaus, nor did it impose any monetary penalties or fines.

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