Consumer credit reports contain many errors, causing some consumers to pay higher rates for loans, the Federal Trade Commission said Monday.
The FTC found high error rates in credit reports from the three major credit agencies — Experian, Equifax and TransUnion — in its ongoing study of the credit-scoring process, it said Monday. One in four participants in the study found errors in at least one of their reports from the three major agencies. Of the participants who disputed their score, 80% received some form of modification. In many cases the errors were big enough to affect the terms of a loan; overall, 5% of the study's participants disputed their scores and received a change large enough to lower their credit-risk tier.
"These are eye-opening numbers for American consumers," Howard Shelanski, director of the FTC's bureau of economics, said in a news release. "The results of this first-of-its-kind study make it clear that consumers should check their credit reports regularly."
Experian officials downplayed the criticism. The FTC report "confirms that consumer credit reports are predominately accurate" and that "the vast majority of errors on credit reports have no bearing on credit scores,” a spokesman for Experian said in an email. Yet Experian "is not satisfied with this result and we continue to work toward ensuring credit reports are 100% accurate."
As part of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003, Congress mandated the FTC to conduct a study of all the groups that participate in the credit-reporting and scoring process. The latest study, based on data from more than 1,000 participants, is the agency's fifth interim report to Congress on the topic. The final report is due in 2014.