FOI At Work: Columbus Dispatch Examines 30,000 Credit Report Complaints

A great example of the power of FOI to shed light:

During a yearlong investigation, The Dispatch collected and analyzed nearly 30,000 consumer complaints filed with the Federal Trade Commission and attorneys general in 24 states that alleged violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act by the three largest credit-reporting agencies in the United States — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

Industry observers say it is among the most comprehensive reviews ever conducted of complaints against credit-reporting agencies.

The complaints document the inability of consumers to correct errors that range from minor to financially devastating. Consumers said the agencies can’t even correct the most obvious mistakes: That’s not my birth date. That’s not my name. I’m not dead.

Nearly a quarter of the complaints to the FTC and more than half of the complaints to the attorneys general involved mistakes in consumers’ financial accounts for credit cards, mortgages or car loans. Houses sold in bank-approved “short sales,” at less than the value of the mortgage, were listed as foreclosures. Car loans that had been paid off were reported as repossessions. Credit cards that had been paid off and closed years earlier showed as delinquent.

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