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Equifax issued wrong credit scores for millions looking for home, auto loans


A blunder at Equifax that affected hundreds of thousands of people is being blamed on a technical glitch by the credit giant, but those impacted are not buying it. 

Atlanta-based Equifax confirmed that it provided incorrect credit scores due to a technology glitch earlier this year which affected hundreds of thousands of people who were seeking loans over a period of approximately three weeks in March and April. The issue was first reported in National Mortgage Professional. Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that credit scores were inaccurate for millions of borrowers. 

Consumer advocates decried the mistake and called for an investigation, but the company chalked the problem up to a “coding issue” in its software and said the problem did not affect any individual’s credit reports. 

The ‘problem’ as defined by Equifax is credit scores being reported higher or lower than justified by a consumer’s financial history. These ratings were then used by lenders in making decisions about providing mortgages, auto loans, and other debt.  For many who rely on their credit scores, this is not something Equifax can sweep under the rug and some have suggested filing a class action lawsuit. 

In response to the revelations, a lawsuit was filed last week against Equifax in federal court alleging that the company’s mistakes on millions of credit scores hurt consumers and violated the law. The suit, which seeks class-action status, asks that Equifax be forced to pay back the money it made selling those scores, pay an unspecified amount in penalties, and inform every individual whose scores were misreported. “This lawsuit alleges that Equifax failed to live up to its responsibility as one of America’s major credit reporting agencies,” said a statement by Morgan & Morgan attorneys John Morgan and John Yanchunis. “We believe that many of the people impacted — some of whom may still be unaware of what happened — suffered severe financial consequences. We will hold Equifax accountable for these alleged failures and win justice for everyone impacted.”

The case, filed Tuesday on behalf of a Florida woman in U.S. District Court in Atlanta, is the first of many that could come from the credit score revelations. 

Equifax said the glitch lasted from March 17 to April 6 and the “vast majority of scores” were not affected. The glitch was fixed, the company said in a statement. “We know that businesses and consumers depend on our data and Equifax takes this technology coding issue very seriously.”

Equifax collects information about hundreds of millions of individuals and companies. It employs over 13,000, including 2,500 in Atlanta. Files show whether someone is applying for debt and whether they generally pay their debts on time. Equifax sells that data to lenders, who use the reports and credit scores in deciding whether to offer a loan and what kind of interest to charge. Credit scores were changed by 25 points or more for fewer than 300,000 consumers, the company said in a statement. 

Equifax had a breach in 2017 when a hack exposed sensitive personal information of nearly 150 million Americans. That breach, one of the largest known hacks into consumer data, led to the departure of the company’s top executive and a settlement in which the company paid hundreds of millions of dollars. 

“Equifax has shown once again that we can’t trust it to do its one job,” said Mike Litt, consumer campaign director for US PIRG, a federation of state public interest research groups that advocate for consumers. “Mistakes on credit scores can keep people from getting mortgages, good interest rates or even a job.” 

Equifax is a company that has been intimately involved in much of the American economy. Litt suggested that federal regulators should have a closer look saying the company should be required to provide more information. “For starters, what caused the coding issue? How exactly will it be prevented in the future? Are there other problems we don’t know about?”


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