— Money Matters

This credit agency may have been confusing people about their actual credit score

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It’s tax season, so naturally, people are stressed about finances. The last thing anyone needs to deal with right now is a credit bureau confusing people about their credit scores. But unfortunately, that’s exactly what’s happening.

Credit scores are complicated, there’s no question about it. Something most people don’t realize is that you don’t have just one credit score, you have multiple.

Because being an adult is so hard and confusing.

The credit reporting agency Experian was fined $3 million by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) on Thursday. The agency was “deceiving consumers about the use of credit scores it sold,” according to the CFPB. Experian, one of the three largest credit-reporting bureaus along with TransUnion and Equifax, falsely told customers between 2012 and 2014 that the credit scores it was selling (a proprietary score developed by Experian called a “PLUS Score”) were the same ones used by lenders to make lending decisions.

“In its advertising, Experian falsely represented that the credit scores it marketed and provided to consumers were the same scores lenders use to make credit decisions,” the CFPB stated. “In fact, lenders did not use the scores Experian sold to consumers.”

Experian also required customers to view Experian ads before they could view their federally mandated free credit report, which violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

And that’s a major agency violation.

The truth is, you have multiple scores. And often, they depend on the type of loan you apply for. But credit scores aren’t only used for lending. Have you ever had a landlord check your credit? If you’ve ever rented, you probably have.

This isn’t the first time this has happened to a major credit reporting agency.

TransUnion and Equifax were both fined earlier this year because of similar violations and were ordered to offer $23 million in refunds to customers.

Experian won’t admit to any wrongdoing but agreed to pay the fine. All three agencies have agreed to change their marketing practices and become a lot more clear about exactly what customers are paying for.

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