Updated list names financial surveillance companies that people can use to access their own files and sue if they violate the Fair Credit Reporting Act
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released its annual list of consumer reporting companies. The list identifies dozens of specialty reporting companies that collect and sell access to people’s data, including individuals’ finances, employment, check writing histories, or rental history records, often without their knowledge. Using the list, people can exercise their right to see what information these firms have, dispute inaccuracies, and file lawsuits if the firms are violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
“Many companies assemble and sell detailed dossiers about us that can determine whether we can get a loan, job, or an apartment,” said CFPB Director Rohit Chopra. “Americans have limited legal rights they can use to keep tabs on these surveillance companies and hold them accountable when they violate the law.”
In the United States, the majority of landlords and employers rely on tenant screeners and employment background checks in the course of deciding whether to accept a rental application or offer someone a job. As families recover from the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, seeking new jobs or places to live, errors in these databases can severely harm their financial lives.
While the three nationwide consumer reporting companies – Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian – allow people to check their reports for free once a week through December 2022, many of the specialty companies charge people a fee to access this data. The list published today allows people to see which companies provide this information for free, as well as search for those that provide specialized reporting by specific markets, including employment, tenant, insurance, and medical.
People are frequently in the best position to know if their information is accurate. If an individual finds information in their consumer reports that appears to be inaccurate, they have the right to file a dispute and the consumer reporting company is required to conduct a reasonable investigation.
The CFPB has previously highlighted problems that consumers have reported about the three nationwide reporting companies, Experian, Equifax and TransUnion, not adequately responding to consumer complaints about errors. The CFPB also issued an advisory opinion in November 2021 affirming that all consumer reporting companies, including tenant and employment screening companies, have an obligation to use reasonable procedures to assure maximum possible accuracy.
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