Bank Watch

N.C. consumer complaints about credit bureaus on the rise

For 2015, complaints about the nation’s three credit-reporting agencies are running a close second to mortgages on the list of complaints North Carolina consumers are filing with a federal regulator, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
For 2015, complaints about the nation’s three credit-reporting agencies are running a close second to mortgages on the list of complaints North Carolina consumers are filing with a federal regulator, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The Wichita Eagle

This week, I wrote about how mortgages are the No. 1 issue North Carolina consumers are complaining about to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. But it might not be that way for long.

For 2015, complaints about the nation’s three credit-reporting agencies are running a close second, as North Carolina consumers become frustrated with the companies whose records of their credit history can affect everything from getting a job to renting an apartment to having utility services at their home.

“There are only three credit-reporting agencies ... and almost every single consumer is impacted by all three of them, because all three of them have records on every single consumer, basically,” said Kevin Anderson, director of the consumer protection division for the N.C. Attorney General's Office.

“Traditionally, we have received a steady number of complaints against them,” he said.

According to a CFPB report in March, 77 percent of U.S. consumer complaints about credit reporting involve incorrect information on the reports.

In North Carolina so far this year, consumers have filed more than 680 complaints over credit reporting with the CFPB. Mortgage complaints are No. 1 in the state since the beginning of this year, at about 770.

Among all of the companies generating CFPB complaints in North Carolina so far this year, credit bureaus are at the top of the list. Equifax is No. 1, followed by Experian.

Attempts to reach Equifax were unsuccessful.

“Experian North America manages more than 220 million consumer credit files which brings with it an enormous responsibility,” Experian said in a statement. “As the largest provider of credit reports to business users and directly to consumers, Experian naturally has a higher proportion of complaints reported in the CFPB’s complaint portal.”

The company said it “reviews and responds to each complaint directly with the consumer and to the CFPB.”

Various states have reached settlements this year with the three credit bureaus over their practices. Under one such settlement announced in May, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion agreed to pay $6 billion and make certain changes, including in the way they handle consumers who dispute information on their credit reports. That agreement involved North Carolina and 30 other states.

Ira Rheingold, executive director of the National Association of Consumer Advocates, a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., says the credit-reporting system in the U.S. remains broken.

“It is nearly impossible if there’s a mistake in your credit report to get it fixed,” he said.

Nationwide, debt-collection complaints are poised to hold the No. 1 spot this year, as those complaints continue to outnumber those about mortgages.

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