A proposed class action claims TransUnion has fraudulently marketed its “Vantage Score” product as comparable to “an actual FICO credit score” when, in truth, it fails to accurately represent a consumer’s three-digit score as reported to creditors.
According to the 14-page lawsuit, TransUnion, one of the “Big 3” credit reporting agencies, markets its Vantage Score as “the score a lender would receive if they requested it today.” Although consumers are given the impression that the defendant’s product will provide insight into their Fair Issacs (FICO) credit score, TransUnion’s Vantage Score is “not the same as the FICO model used by actual creditors,” the case alleges. According to the suit, TransUnion’s Vantage Score is “not a publicly recognized credit score” and used by “[v]ery few institutional creditors.”
The plaintiff, a Virginia resident, claims that although he purchased his Vantage Score from TransUnion to obtain insight into the terms he would be offered on a car loan, the defendant reported a much lower score to his lender on the same day.
“By representing one credit score to Plaintiff and a different credit score to a third party after Plaintiff purchased his credit score through the Defendant, Defendant engaged in a deceptive practice,” the complaint charges, alleging violations of the Virginia Consumer Protection Act.
The lawsuit, filed July 30 in Virginia, claims TransUnion is “well aware” that its Vantage Score is a “meaningless and fraudulent product.” In reality, TransUnion’s Vantage Score is merely a way for the company to “negotiate and lever better licensing terms from the actual credit scoring company, Fair Issacs, known as FICO,” the suit argues.
The case claims that although TransUnion offers its business customers both its Vantage Score and, by license, the FICO score model, most of the defendant’s credit-grantor customers only purchase the FICO score.
TransUnion’s Vantage Score product, the suit says, should be represented more accurately as an “educational score” given it is not actually used by lenders and, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), may be “quite different” from a consumer’s credit score.
According to the filing, the defendant has been sued “on multiple occasions” for allegedly misleading customers into believing its Vantage Score product was comparable to an actual credit score. In fact, the complaint states, the CFPB in 2017 prosecuted a fraud case against TransUnion “in the same claim and issues alleged herein.” Despite being ordered by the agency to “truthfully represent the value of the credit scores [it provides] and the cost of obtaining those credit scores and other services,” TransUnion has failed to change its deceptive conduct, the lawsuit alleges.
The plaintiff claims to have purchased his Vantage Score from TransUnion in August 2019 to determine whether he would be able to finance the purchase of a new car on terms he could afford. Although TransUnion represented that the plaintiff’s credit score was 662, a score recognized in the financial industry as a “C” level of credit and characterized by TransUnion as “average,” the defendant, on the same day, sold to the plaintiff’s lender a traditional credit report containing a FICO score of 629, the suit relays. Per the case, the score reported to the lender was more than 30 points lower than TransUnion represented to the plaintiff and reflected a “D” level of credit, which forced the consumer to find a co-borrower for his loan in order to obtain a monthly payment he could afford.
The lawsuit argues that TransUnion’s reporting of one credit score to a consumer and then a much lower credit score to a third party “on the exact same day” is “of no economic value to its creditor customers” and “was carried out with reckless disregard of its obligations.”
The case looks to cover anyone who, within the past two years and through the date of class certification, paid for and obtained a Vantage Score product from TransUnion and whose TransUnion files showed them to have a Virginia address.
The lawsuit also proposes a subclass of those who fit the aforementioned criteria and whose FICO score would have varied by at least 30 points at the time they obtained their Vantage Score from TransUnion.
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