Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY

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June 16, 2014

Mississippi files law suit against credit company Experian

WASHINGTON — Mississippi has sued credit reporting giant Experian, alleging sweeping errors in the company's data and routine violations of consumer protection laws. Mississippi's action - and a previously unreported multi-state investigation of credit bureaus led by Ohio - represent a significant new legal challenge to the industry.

Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood's complaint against Experian Information Solutions was filed without fanfare last month in a Biloxi state courthouse and transferred to Mississippi federal court late last week. The lawsuit accuses Experian of knowingly including error-riddled data in the credit files of millions of Americans, jeopardizing their ability to obtain loans, employment-related background checks and sensitive government security clearances. Experian has even wrongly reported that consumers are on a federal terrorism watch list, the lawsuit said.

Both Experian and a spokesman for its trade group, the Consumer Data Industry Association, declined to discuss the litigation or related questions about the quality of the company's data.

Experian warned investors earlier this year that the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and its British counterpart were regulatory agencies responsible for protecting consumers and said, "It remains uncertain how these bodies may affect our credit and consumer business processes and business models in the future."

Experian told investors that, to the best of its knowledge, it complies with data protection requirements, but it warned that, "We might fail to comply with international, federal, regional, provincial, state or other jurisdictional regulations, due to their complexity, frequent changes or inconsistent application and interpretation."

Despite the errors, the Mississippi lawsuit said, Experian provides no straightforward way for consumers to correct erroneous blemishes affecting their credit. When consumers file a dispute, Experian reflexively finds in favor of the bank or debt collector that reported the debt, Mississippi said. And when consumers call to complain, the lawsuit said Experian employees attempt to sell consumers credit monitoring products of questionable value.

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