N.Y. Sues TRW, Citing Misrepresentation

NEW YORK - The New York State attorney general filed suit Tuesday against TRW Inc., one of the nation's largest credit reporting agencies, contending that the company has mislead consumers.

The suit, filed in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan, faults the credit rating policies of Cleveland-based TRW, which provides information to credit card issuers, lenders, employers, direct mail marketers, and others.

The suit also accuses TRW of failing to maintain reasonable procedures to assure the accuracy of its reports.

The attorney general's office asked the court to order TRW to pay an unspecified amount of penalties, restitution, and damages.

TRW had no comment by presstime.

More than a Gatherer

New York Attorney General Robert Abrams said in a statement that TRW misrepresents itself to consumers as merely being a gatherer of information collected from its subscribers, which includes banks and retailers.

"TRW is masquerading as a mere library of credit histories when, in fact, it is secretly rating the creditworthiness of consumers," Mr. Abrams said in a statement.

"TRW has a legal obligation to disclose to consumers its true role in the credit-granting process," he said.

Unknown to consumers, TRW offers point-scoring systems to credit grantors for an additional fee, the attorney general said. These systems, which rate an individual's creditworthiness according to a variety of factors, are intended to help identify potential credit risks.

About 30% of TRW credit reports issued to subscribers display a point score, the suit said.

The suit also alleges that TRW issues different versions of credit reports to subscribers and to consumers.

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