Has the Equifax Credit Report Error Affected You? Here’s how to find out. – wink messages | Vette Leader


Equifax is back in the limelight after Rep. Maxine Waters asked that the credit reporting agency be banned from selling credit scores until she explains how it messed up credit score calculations for millions of Americans.

Equifax admitted last week that it misreported the credit scores of some consumers, potentially affecting mortgage, auto loan and credit card applications. The company sent out bogus results between March 17 and April 6, affecting millions of consumers, the Wall Street Journal reported. Still, Equifax said fewer than 300,000 customers changed their credit ratings by 25 points or more in either direction.

Waters, a California Democrat who chairs the House Financial Services Committee, wrote to the Consumer Financial Reporting Bureau on Wednesday, urging the CFPB to block Equifax from distributing consumer credit scores until it can show those scores are accurate.

Possible damage

Equifax is one of three credit reporting agencies that collect financial and other data on most of America’s adult population. Credit reports and credit scores are important tools that lenders rely on when approving customers. Most credit scores range from 300 to 850, with a higher score leading to more favorable loan terms.

Although Equifax said the underlying information was not changed as part of the error, a 25-point shift in creditworthiness can mean the difference between approval or rejection of financial products and affect how much interest you pay.

A Florida woman forced into a high-priced car loan because of a false Equifax score is now suing the company. The lawsuit, which is seeking class-action status, finds that 25 million credit reports were collected from the three credit reporting agencies in the three weeks that Equifax sent erroneous results. Given those numbers, millions of Americans could be affected by the bug, the lawsuit alleges.

Read on to learn if the errors affect you and what to do if your credit has been compromised.

Did you apply for a loan or loan this spring?

Unless you applied for a loan, credit card, or other financial product between March 17 and April 6, it’s hard to know if you were affected by Equifax’s rating errors.

“If you haven’t been monitoring your creditworthiness and credit report regularly, how would you know?” said Bruce McClary, senior vice president of membership and communications at the National Foundation for Credit Counseling

“However, if you went to a lender and were rejected … that could be an indication that you may have been a victim,” he said.

What did the lender say?

If you have been denied a loan or received worse financial terms because you have been classified as a credit risk, the lender must send you a notice explaining the decision.

McClary advises going back to the denial notice to see what factors were involved. If you can’t find it, call the lender and ask if they can pull it off their file.

“You want to be very sure, which is what prompted the lender to deny your application,” he said.

“It’s not right to assume it’s always going to be credit,” McClary added. “Maybe your debt-to-income ratio wasn’t what you wanted. Perhaps your career path hasn’t reflected the kind of stability you were looking for.”

According to the Federal Trade Commission, there are two types of notifications lenders send when they decline a loan. If you are denied based on information in a consumer report, the lender must send an “Adverse Action Notice.” If you have received less generous terms, the lender must send a “risk-based pricing” notice.

If you applied for a credit card or loan and didn’t receive either communication, you weren’t affected by the Equifax bug, according to Nerdwallet.

Check your credit report

The next step is to request your credit report. Consumers are regularly entitled to a free credit report, which they can request from annualcreditreport.com. If something is wrong with the report, dispute it. You can also try calling the Equifax support hotline at 1-888-378-4329.

Once any issues on your credit report have been corrected, “It’s worth going back and asking for a reconsideration. That means you have to reapply for the loan,” McClary said.

McClary noted that the current case is unusual. Unlike financial institutions that have been hit by data breaches, Equifax has not contacted customers to let them know about the issue.

You can also check your reports from all three bureaus weekly for free at annualcreditreport.com

The credit agency did not answer questions from CBS MoneyWatch as to whether it planned to contact customers.

Waters and other lawmakers are now urging Equifax to explain the error and compensate all affected customers.

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