Credit bureaus fined over deceptive credit score marketing practices

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Credit bureaus fined over deceptive credit score marketing practices
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If you’ve ever felt like you’ve gotten a raw deal from the major credit bureaus, you could have some money coming back as restitution!

Read more: 10 tips to quickly improve your credit score

Equifax and TransUnion fined

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has fined Equifax and TransUnion for deceptive marketing practices surrounding their credit score offerings.

Both bureaus operated their consumer-focused credit score business on the premise of offering ‘free’ or $1 credit scores. But those offers were on a trial-basis only.

After the trial was up, Equifax and TransUnion then hit customers with monthly recurring charges if they failed to cancel within sometimes as short a window as seven days.

The bureaus were also fined for telling consumers the scores they were being offered were the ones being used by lenders making credit decisions.

In reality, TransUnion offered its own proprietary VantageScore and Equifax sold a score based on its own Equifax Credit Score, which it calls an ‘educational’ credit score. Neither score is the FICO score that’s typically used by lenders.

Finally, the CFPB says Equifax also violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act through January 2014 by requiring customers seeking a free credit report via AnnualCreditReport.com to view Equifax ads before they could get the report.

As part of this action, both bureaus must truthfully represent the usefulness of the credit scores they sell and make it easier to cancel if you wind up enrolled in their subscription services.

What you need to know about getting your restitution

Now TransUnion and Equifax have been ordered to pay $5.5 million in fines to the CFPB.

Another $17.6 million has been earmarked as restitution for consumers who were taken by the bureau’s deceptive marketing practices.

TransUnion will pay $13.9 million in restitution to affected consumers. Equifax will pay nearly $3.8 million to affected consumers.

If you have money coming back to you, you’ll receive a notification letter from the companies over the coming weeks.

Read more: 5 credit card myths that could harm your credit score

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Theo Thimou About the author:
Theo is director of content for clark.com. He has co-written 2 books with Clark Howard, including the #1 New York Times bestseller Clark Howard's Living Large in Lean Times.
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