Experian Information Solutions, Inc. has been named in a proposed class action lawsuit in which three plaintiffs allege the credit reporting agency has failed to disclose to consumers the full extent of the information it collects and disseminates to third parties. In particular, the case argues that Experian maintains a trove of data, including certain behavioral details, dates of employment, and third-party credit inquiries, that it does not include among the disclosures made to consumers.
The lawsuit explains that under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), Section 1681g, consumer reporting agencies such as the defendant are required to disclose upon request “all information in the consumer’s file at the time of the request,” including the source of the information, the identity of each entity that procured a report about the individual, and a record of all inquiries received by the agency in connection with a credit or insurance transaction that was not initiated by the consumer.
Despite FCRA requirements, Experian, the case alleges, has failed to include in files shared with consumers certain traditional and non-traditional information available to third parties through the defendant’s “Employment Insight” report, “ConsumerView” database and “Collection Advantage” services. Among this information, the complaint explains, are an individual’s dates of employment, age, gender, marital status, number of children, location, homeowner status, education, occupation, income, type of dwelling, and even behavioral attributes such as spending habits and shopping interests. According to the case, this personally identifiable information (PII) is used and intended to be used by third parties to assess consumers’ creditworthiness, as well as their eligibility for employment and insurance, and is therefore required to be disclosed upon request.
The lawsuit further argues that Experian also omits from consumers’ requested files all soft credit inquiries that were made about an individual, as well as the identity of each entity that requested a consumer report. The defendant’s lack of disclosures, the case alleges, has violated consumers’ right to privacy and thwarted their ability to ensure the accuracy of their credit reports. From the complaint:
“Experian’s failure to disclose the fact of these inquiries, the identity of the person making the inquiries, or the purpose of the inquiries, constitutes violations of Plaintiffs’ and Class members’ right to privacy because while their PII was made readily available to those willing and able to pay for it, Plaintiffs had no knowledge of or opportunity to disagree with the provision of their PII to third parties. This violated Plaintiffs’ rights to privacy, which once lost, can never be regained.”
According to the lawsuit, Experian’s failure to relay to individuals the precise names of entities that procure their traditional and non-traditional consumer report information, not to mention the numbers of inquiries made and the permissible purposes that would allow for such, has subjected proposed class members to injury by “making it impossible for the consumer to verify that the disclosure was for a permissible purpose.” More broadly, according to the lawsuit, Experian’s alleged third-party disclosure failures have deprived consumers of the opportunity to independently investigate the information in their file for completeness, accuracy or possible fraud.