The Garden State ranks 14th in the nation in the number of credit report complaints per 100,000 residents according to a new report by the New Jersey Public Interest Research Group (NJPIRG) Law and Policy Center.

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When it comes to the most complained-about credit reporting agency in New Jersey, Experian takes top billing.

The report used data from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's (CFPB) public Consumer Complaints Database. It compared complaints against three nationwide credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, commonly referred to as credit bureaus, who were together responsible for 96 percent of all complaints about credit reporting.

"The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is providing aggrieved consumers with the opportunity to demand a response from credit reporting agencies and get real relief," said Jen Coleman, Advocate for NJPIRG Law and Policy Center. "The nationwide credit reporting agencies effectively function as gatekeepers to financial and employment opportunity and the CFPB's public database holds them accountable to a high standards of accuracy."

The report, entitled Big Credit Bureaus, Big Mistakes: The CFPB's Consumer Complaint Database Gets Real Results for Victims of Credit Reporting Errors," is the third in a series of NJPIRG Law and Policy Center reports that analyze the complaints. Millions of Americans have serious errors on their credit reports according to many studies conducted by the NJPIRG Law and Policy Center along with the Federal Trade Commission.

Among the key findings:

  • New Jersey ranks 14th in complaints per 100,000 residents, making residents fourteenth most likely to file a complaint. Residents of the District of Columbia were most likely to complain.
  • The most complained-about credit reporting agency in New Jersey is Experian.
  • By far, the most common problem was incorrect information on a credit report, which accounted for 65 percent of complaints.
  • The CFPB has helped enable nearly 3,000 consumers, or 30 percent of total complainants, to receive relief such as fixing incorrect information on a credit report or refunding service charges or fees related to credit reporting.
  • The 'big three' nationwide credit reporting agencies (NCRAs) - Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian - varied widely in how they responded to complaints. Equifax responded to 63 percent of its complaints with non-monetary relief, while Experian did so in only 5 percent of cases and TransUnion in 22 percent. Equifax provided monetary or non-monetary relief nearly three times as often as TransUnion and more than 10 times as often as Experian.
  • Consumers disputed the companies' responses to about 18 percent of all complaints.

The report also highlights changes the CFPB should make in order to improve the accessibility and usefulness of its database, which includes adding details about the consumer's specific problem and how it was resolved.

NJPIRG Law and Policy Center also urged the CFPB to order the credit bureaus to comply with the law's accuracy and dispute reinvestigation standards.

"Since consumers can't shop around for their credit report, the CFPB's public Consumer Complaints Database is an invaluable tool to hold credit reporting agencies accountable," said Coleman.

For more information, visit this website or NJPIRG online.