Experian fined $3M over 'inaccurate' credit scores

Experian fined $3M over 'inaccurate' credit scores
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Experian, one of the nation’s largest credit bureaus, was fined $3 million Thursday for providing consumers with “inaccurate” credit scores.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) accused Experian of deceiving people about their credit scores, a financial measurement lenders use to determine how likely a borrower is to repay everything from their mortgage to their credit card bill. 

“Experian deceived consumers over how the credit scores it marketed and sold were used by lenders,” CFPB Director Richard Cordray said Thursday. “Consumers deserve and should expect honest and accurate information about their credit scores, which are central to their financial lives.”

Experian is one of the three largest credit bureaus in the U.S. 

In January, the other two — TransUnion and Equifax — were fined $5.5 million and forced to pay another $17.6 million in restitution to consumers for similar violations.

At issue is the accuracy of the credit scores these companies sell to consumers.

Under federal law, these credit bureaus must provide consumers with a free credit report each year that tracks the money they borrow to pay for credit cards, mortgages, car loans, and student loans.

This report, in turn, generates a credit score the companies sell.

But a CFPB investigation revealed Experian prepared different credit scores for consumers and lenders.

“Experian falsely represented that the credit scores it marketed and provided to consumers were the same scores lenders use to make credit decisions,” the agency said.

“In some instances, there were significant differences between the scores that Experian provided to consumers and the various credit scores lenders actually use,” the report found. “As a result, Experian’s credit scores in these instances presented an inaccurate picture of how lenders assessed consumer creditworthiness.”

The CFPB said the deceptive practices occurred between 2012 and 2014. In addition to the $3 million fine, the agency ordered Experian to explain the difference to consumers between the score they purchase and the score lenders receive.