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Hood: Credit reporting agencies’ actions hurt consumers

Mississippi residents will receive three years of free access to their own credit reports under an agreement three credit reporting agencies have made with the state’s top legal officer.

Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax agreed to overhaul their business practices after an investigation showed they made mistakes on consumers’ credit reports, Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood said in a news release Wednesday. He said Experian and TransUnion also engaged in deceptive marketing practices.

Hood said his office started investigating in 2013 after receiving complaints from consumers who were having problems correcting errors on their credit reports. He said the agencies failed to properly verify people’s debts and failed to delete paid or expired debts from the reports.

“These corporations were too busy making money and listing debt that they didn’t bother to take the time to delete errors or verify whether the debts were correct,” Hood said. “Even worse, consumers had to fight tooth and nail to get these significant errors corrected. When Mississippi families were denied loans due to these errors and omissions, it was almost impossible for them to get a live person on the phone. When they finally reached a live person, it was even more difficult to get the errors or omissions corrected on just one credit report, much less the other two.”

Spokesmen for the three companies did not immediately respond to messages from The Associated Press.

Beginning in November, Mississippi residents can receive the three years of free, unlimited access to credit reports and one free FICO credit score per year for three years. Hood said many consumers will receive an email message about the benefits from inquiries@MississippiCreditReportSettlement.com. He said the email is not spam.

The agencies will pay the state nearly $7.2 million, Hood said.

He said Experian and TransUnion deceptively marketed and sold subscription credit monitoring services. People responding to promises of a “$1 credit report” or “free credit score” were automatically enrolled in a monthly credit monitoring service that charged them a fee.

Equifax will start “Feel Good About Credit,” a program to educate Mississippi consumers about credit. TransUnion will promote the free benefits to consumers through print, digital radio and social media advertisements.

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