Mississippians to Receive Unlimited Free Credit Reports; Agencies to pay $7.1 million to state
Attorney General Jim Hood announced today that the nation’s three major credit reporting
agencies will overhaul their business practices and offer Mississippians unlimited access to free credit
reports over the next three years in order to resolve the Attorney General’s investigation into the
agencies’ mistakes on credit reports and deceptive marketing activities. The agencies were accused of
putting their own interests ahead of those of Mississippi consumers by failing to properly verify debts and
failing to delete paid or expired debts from credit reports.
The credit reporting agencies, Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax will pay the state a total of $7.175
million. Starting in November, Mississippi residents will be eligible to receive unlimited free credit reports
for three years, one free FICO credit score every year for three years, in addition to other benefits
provided by the credit bureaus under terms of settlements with Attorney General Hood.
The three credit reporting agencies compile and sell credit reports on almost every Mississippi adult. The
reports are the basis for determining whether and on what terms consumers are offered credit cards,
student loans, auto loans, mortgages or rental housing. The information on the reports may impact the
security clearance of a member of the military, or it may be the difference for employers in determining
whether to offer someone a job.
“There are few documents more important than credit reports to borrowers, students, homeowners,
tenants, job candidates and service members,” Attorney General Hood said. “Unfortunately, these
corporations put their business interests ahead of the best interests of Mississippians. 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. 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.”
Attorney General Hood launched an extensive investigation into credit reporting practices in 2013 after
his office received numerous consumer complaints about credit report errors and difficulty in correcting those errors.
Of particular concern to Attorney General Hood were errors in the reporting of information
related to public records such as civil judgments and tax liens.
In many instances, the agencies were attributing one person’s public record to another person.
They also failed to update public records information when a civil judgment, for example, had been paid or dismissed.
In addition, the agencies had no procedure in place to comply with a Mississippi law that extinguishes
certain debts after three years. The agencies were routinely including extinguished debts in credit reports
for Mississippians.
The Attorney General also discovered that Experian and TransUnion were engaging in deceptive
marketing and sale of subscription credit monitoring services. Many Mississippians lured by the promise
of a “$1 credit report” or “free credit score” were automatically enrolled in an expensive monthly credit
monitoring service that they did not want and did not know about.”
Over the last three years, we have worked to end these problems and ensure that none of these
practices will be allowed to continue in Mississippi,” Attorney General Hood said. “I encourage consumers
to take advantage of the services being offered by the agencies, such as the free, unlimited access to
credit reports. Knowing your credit score and understanding your credit report helps protect you against
errors, and it can be valuable in making important financial decisions.”
Equifax will launch an education initiative in Mississippi called “Feel Good About Credit,” to educate
consumers about credit and help them improve their financial lives. The initiative will help empower
consumers to be their financial best through advertising using emojis and an interactive quiz.
TransUnion will promote the free benefits to consumers through print, digital radio and social media
advertisements. Attorney General Hood also advised Mississippians that many consumers will receive an
email message frominquiries@MississippiCreditReportSettlement.com
in the coming days announcing the consumer is entitled to sign up for and receive free, unlimited credit reports and annual free FICO
scores.