Consumer activists were rattled Monday after the FTC released a report on widespread credit reporting errors.According to the agency, as many as one in five consumers have errors on their credit reports that could hinder their ability to apply for new credit or stick them with sky high interest rates.
The report was highlighted in a fascinating 60 Minutes segment by CBS’ Steve Kroft.
“Besides having financial consequences, the whole dispute process takes an emotional toll on people,” Kroft said in an extended interview.
“It’s just really hard sometimes to get these things fixed. You feel like you’re up against this machine and there’s no way to break through. After a while I think people sometimes start to question their own sanity…. so we decided to show the consumer what it’s like.”
From what we’ve learned from his six-month investigation and two new reports on the credit reporting industry, it’s more evident than ever that consumers are in need of real change.
In a controversial new '60 Minutes' segment, Steven Kroft, an award-winning investigative journalist in his own right, has tried for two years to correct an erroneous line on his credit report.
Like most consumers who call the 800 number on credit reporting agency websites, he spent 15 minutes on the phone with a representative from India and was told to fill out a dispute online.
The problem with asking consumers to file complaints electronically –– or often by snail mail –– is that they're rarely reviewed by the agencies themselves.
A Consumer Financial Protection Bureau report found that of more than 32 million disputes filed by consumers in 2011, CRAs only fielded about 15 per cent in-house.
The agencies send the lion's share of disputes off to an automated system called eOSCAR, which in turn passes them off to whichever creditor is responsible for the alleged error.
eOSCAR labels disputes with one of two codes depending on their content and just 26 per cent of disputes are sent to creditors with any sort of extra information.