Jimmy Patronis pushes Equifax to correct credit scoring errors

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‘This error equates to money being stolen directly out of the pockets of innocent consumers by no fault of their own.’

Following a Wall Street Journal report that consumer credit rating agency Equifax’s internal coding error led to inaccurate credit scores for potentially millions of Americans, Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis wrote to its leader seeking answers.

Because the error could’ve led to consumers paying higher interest rates on loans or being denied, Patronis believes “this error equates to money being stolen directly out of the pockets of innocent consumers by no fault of their own,” he wrote in a letter to Equifax CEO Mark Begor on Thursday.

“With U.S. inflation at historic levels and interest rates increasing steadily, the last thing Florida consumers need is to have their financial data impacted by a botched coding error of this magnitude. Therefore, it is crucial Equifax provide the state of Florida with more information related to this coding error and detailed steps on how to make affected consumers whole again,” he added.

The Aug. 2 story in the Journal revealed Equifax gave inaccurate credit scores for potentially millions of consumers over three weeks in March and April. The scores, which were given to small and big banks and lenders, could’ve been off by 20 points or more — enough to affect decisions about whether to lend or what interest rate to charge.

Equifax representatives said they fixed the “technology coding issue” as they called it, but Patronis is still seeking further details.

In his letter he asked six questions of Begor: has Equifax told all borrowers affected by the coding error? Have all lenders been notified? What can lenders do to change previous decisions based on faulty scores? What recourse do consumers locked into higher rate loans have? How will Equifax make borrowers whole? What is Equifax doing to make sure a similar error doesn’t happen again?

Patronis closed the letter by noting Equifax’s data breach in 2017, which led to millions of consumers’ personal data being stolen and used in possible fraud schemes.

“With that in mind, I urge your leadership team to take immediate action to ensure these mistakes are resolved and that this data breach does not bring unremitting and lasting harm to Florida’s families and businesses,” Patronis wrote.

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