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Five

 

Big Three Can't Dodge This

 

 Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union Corp., have agreed to pay $2.5 million to settle charges that they dodged calls from consumers wishing to obtain and discuss their credit reports.

      The Federal Trade Commission’s charges alleged that the organizations did not adequately staff their toll-free numbers, as they are legally bound to do. Instead, the FTC alleged, callers were either met with a busy signal, greeted with a message telling them to call back, or were left on hold. The charges also allege that Equifax and Trans Union blocked calls from some locations.

     None of the companies admitted any wrongdoing.

      “The reality is that consumers never got the access to the consumer reporting agencies that the law guarantees,” said Jodie Bernstein, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “These cases demonstrate in no uncertain terms that it’s time for Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union to pick up the phone and meet their obligations to consumers.”

     As part of the settlement, Trans Union and Experian will each pay $1 million. Equifax will pay $500,000. Some terms of the settlement include:

    Connecting 90% of calls to a human within 3.5 minutes, on average,

    Increasing the number of people staffing the toll-free customer-service lines,

    Curbing the number of blocked calls, and

    Making other attempts to talk to callers.

     Dave Wolff, Trans Union’s consumer relations vice president said, “We will continue working diligently not only to meet appropriate service levels but to exceed them.” Maxine Sweet, Experian’s vice president of consumer affairs, said, “Developing and enacting these standards is a win-win for all concerned. It’s what we want, it’s what the FTC wants and most importantly, it’s beneficial to the consumer.”


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