WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) fined credit reporting agency TransUnion a total of $23 million over inaccurate rental background checks, the agencies said on Thursday.
TransUnion will pay $15 million and make “significant improvements to how it reports evictions,” the CFPB said. Separately, the CFPB is ordering TransUnion to pay $8 million “for lying to consumers” about requested freezes and locks it put on the credit reports of tens of thousands of consumers.
While telling the consumers their requests had been processed, the company allegedly put them instead into a “yearslong backlog,” according to the CFPB.
Though the dollar amounts are modest by comparison to other enforcement actions, the joint announcement from the two consumer protection agencies shows regulators’ persistent focus on credit bureaus, whose services can be make or break consumers’ abilities to buy, rent, borrow and build wealth.
As an election year approaches, the Biden administration has made tackling consumer frustrations and alleged unfair business practices as a key focus of its political messaging.
The actions come amid elevated inflation and poor public approval ratings for President Joe Biden’s stewardship of the economy.
“Consumers struggling to find housing shouldn’t be shut out by tenant screening reports that are ridden with errors and based on data from secret sources,” Samuel Levine, head of the consumer protection at the FTC, said in a statement.
(Reporting by Michelle Price; editing by Jonathan Oatis)