Equifax ranks first in Oregonian complaints

Credit reporting agency also most likely to address consumer issues

By Joseph Ditzler / The Bulletin / @josefditzler

For more information

• To learn more about the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, visit www.consumerfinance.gov/

• To obtain a free copy of your credit report, visit www.annualcreditreport.com.

Of the three nationwide credit reporting agencies, the one Oregonians complain about most is Equifax, according to a state public interest group.

Oregon ranks 18th on the list of 50 states in total number of credit report complaints to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, said Celeste Meiffren of the Oregon State Public Interest Research Group Foundation.

“I actually think that sort of flags that Oregonians are aware that the CFPB has a complaint database,” she said recently.

The bureau, a federal agency created as part of the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act in 2010, gives consumers a place other than the credit agencies to take their grievances, said Meiffren, a consumer-and-taxpayer advocate.

In July 2011, the bureau established the Consumer Complaint Database, where it posts complaint information about credit cards, loans, banks, mortgages, debt collection and credit reporting, which was added in October 2012. The database allows the public to see what patterns exist in consumer credit complaints, and helps the agency to regulate credit bureaus based on their behavior, Meiffren said.

“The CFPB is helping consumers deal with large credit bureaus, and are actually getting results,” she said.

Complaints about credit reporting actually finished in fourth place among 176,700 made between July 11, 2011, and June 30, 2013: Mortgage complaints hold the top spot with 48 percent, followed by credit cards at 21 percent and bank accounts and service at 15 percent, according to the July 2013 bureau report, “Consumer Response: A Snapshot of Complaints Received.”

Complaints from Oregon, statewide, and from Central Oregon were ranked the same, but at different percentages.

Equifax, although it receives the most complaints from Oregonians, also provided relief to consumers more often than the other two reporting agencies, according to the OSPIRG Foundation. Equifax provided relief nearly three times as often as TransUnion and more than 10 times as often as Experian.

Reached Friday for comment, Timothy Klein, a representative for Equifax, responded with a prepared statement: “We are committed to providing consumers with the highest quality of service and the most accurate information available. Our goal is perfection in the data and information we provide. We will continue to serve as a trusted steward of credit data, always striving to improve our comprehensive policies and procedures to protect our customer.”

The CFPB recommends consumers check their free credit reports each year. A recent report found that about one in five people in a survey had at least one potentially significant error in at least one of their credit reports, the bureau stated.

Credit report mistakes can hurt an individual’s credit score and the ability to get credit, a job, a lease or insurance.

Meiffren said consumers should also check their credit reports prior to a major purchase such as a house or car.

— Reporter: 541-617-7815, jditzler@bendbulletin.com