Statement: TransUnion to pay $23 million for illegal tenant background check, credit freeze practices

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CFPB, FTC take action against major credit bureau

WASHINGTON — The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced Thursday that they are requesting a court order that would require a subsidiary of TransUnion, one of the three national credit bureaus, to pay $15 million for allegedly failing to ensure the accuracy of rental background checks. The CFPB is separately ordering TransUnion to pay $8 million for allegedly lying to consumers about placing or removing credit freezes and locks when it had not done so. Notably, the joint enforcement action by the CFPB and FTC represents the largest financial recovery in matters related to rental screening discrepancies.

Charges against TransUnion Rental Screening Solutions (TURSS) and its parent company, TransUnion, include failing to take steps to provide accurate reports of evictions and failing to identify who provided TURSS with inaccurate information. 

Regarding credit freezes and locks, which are tools used to prevent identity theft, the CFPB says that since at least 2003, TransUnion failed to promptly fulfill requests from tens of thousands of consumers to place or remove them. The consumer watchdog agency said that wait times sometimes spanned several months or even a “yearslong backlog.” The CFPB says that TransUnion told consumers their requests had been processed when they had not been.

In response to these developments, Mike Litt, PIRG’s Consumer Campaign Director, released the following statement:

“We are reminded yet again that the oligopoly of credit bureaus does not benefit us. 

“We have no choice but to engage with TransUnion. Yet, its allegedly unlawful practices have far-reaching consequences, impacting people’s housing prospects and putting us at risk of identity theft.

“The CFPB and FTC have explained that TransUnion only started to change its practices when investigations were underway. That’s why we need these agencies on the beat, putting a spotlight on lawbreakers, making them stop their unlawful actions, imposing appropriate fines and then compensating affected consumers.”