National Consumers League urges Congress not to allow credit bureaus’ credit scoring company to dominate the credit scoring system

May 13, 2022

Washington, D.C. –

The National Consumers League has sent a letter to the Chairs of the Senate Banking and House Financial Services Committees asking these leaders to conduct adequate oversight on the nation’s credit bureaus, TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. “The three bureaus keep financial records and establish credit scores for hundreds of millions of Americans. For years, consumer organizations like ours have been raising questions about the behavior and actions of these entities, who in recent years have together created their own credit scoring company called VantageScore.”

The letter noted that “On April 12th of this year, the Consumer Finance Protection Board (CFPB) filed a lawsuit against credit bureau TransUnion and their long-time CEO for willfully violating the law and defrauding consumers, with CFPB’s director saying that ‘TransUnion is an out-of-control repeat offender that believes it is above the law.’  The letter also noted that “In September of 2017, the nation learned that another of the big three, Equifax, had been breached and the financial records of close to 150 million Americans had been compromised. “Investigations …found that Equifax had failed to protect the data that they had been entrusted with and a global settlement was reached.”  The letter goes on to say “… the three credit bureaus own a credit scoring company called VantageScore. Vantage Score is vigorously lobbying the FHFA to spend millions of dollars to change the credit scoring system for the GSEs in order to win market share.”

The letter urges these members of Congress to “ask tough questions and share your concerns directly with the FHFA, especially before that agency takes any action that could send millions of dollars into the pockets of VantageScore.”

Read the letter here.

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About the National Consumers League (NCL) 

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.

 

LifeSmarts announces partnership with Discover® Student Loans  

Media contact: National Consumers League – Katie Brown, katie@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

During Financial Literacy Month, LifeSmarts teen consumer literacy program has introduced a new lesson focused on financing a college education and understanding student loans.

March 31, 2022

Washington, DC– The 28th National LifeSmarts Championship is on the horizon for the National Consumers League’s (NCL) youth consumer education program. Through LifeSmarts students learn about real-life consumer issues and compete to win prizes and scholarships at the National LifeSmarts Championship in April each year. Tomorrow, April 1, is the start of Financial Literacy Month. To commemorate this month, NCL is proud to announce a new lesson about financing a college education, made possible through financial support from Discover Student Loans.

On April 21, 39 teams from across the country will meet in Washington, DC, to compete in the 2022 National LifeSmarts Championship.  The Championship competition takes place over four days in which students will showcase their knowledge of personal finance topics as well as consumer rights, technology and workforce preparation, health and safety, and the environment.

Thanks to Discover Student Loans, LifeSmarts has created a new lesson on financial aid, with questions that will be featured in the National Championship. In the fall, the lessons and new competition focus will be fully integrated into the program for the new school year. Students and educators will see a concentration on personal finance topics at both the 2022 and 2023 National LifeSmarts Championships.

“We are so pleased to work with Discover Student Loans to help our students learn more about the important subject of paying for post-secondary education,” said National Program Director Lisa Hertzberg. “We know LifeSmarts gives students the skills they need to succeed as adults, and we see students applying what they learn immediately at home and in their communities. We are thrilled to be able to give special focus to the most crucial lessons in personal finance, and we look forward to rolling out new resources for educators and opportunities for student participants.”

Last year, students answered more than 3.5 million consumer questions about credit reports, nutrition, social media, and everything in between. More than 100,000 students will participate this year.

LifeSmarts is active in all states and the District of Columbia, where NCL is headquartered. “We are excited to have the opportunity to focus on personal finance for consumers at this age, when they are beginning to make decisions for themselves and influencing decisions made by their parents,” said Sally Greenberg, executive director of NCL. “Too often, traditional high school curriculum fails to teach students vital information to become successful adults, and LifeSmarts helps to close that gap.”

“It’s important that students and their families plan and save for college expenses, pursue free financial aid such as grants and scholarships, and understand the options for federal and private student loans,” said PK Parekh, senior vice president of Discover Student Loans. “We are very happy to work with LifeSmarts to help students learn through real-world lessons about personal finance, financial aid, and responsible borrowing.”

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About LifeSmarts

LifeSmarts is a comprehensive consumer education program that is free to middle school and high school students and educators. The goal of the LifeSmarts program is to create consumer savvy young people who will be better equipped for adult life in today’s complex, global marketplace. Visit LifeSmarts.org for more information. LifeSmarts: Learn it. Live it.

About the National Consumers League (NCL)

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit https://nclnet.org.

National Consumers League joins LGBTQ+ coalitions to address credit issues for transgender and nonbinary community

March 17, 2022

Media contact: National Consumers League –  Katie Brown, katie@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Washington, DC— The National Consumers League has joined efforts with LGBTQ, consumer, and legal advocacy groups to address credit-related problems encountered by transgender and nonbinary consumers.

The letter  to the major credit reporting companies, notes that transgender and nonbinary consumers face a myriad of issues after they change their names — with serious consequences for their financial and personal lives. The transgender and nonbinary community have reported to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that they cannot get Experian, Equifax and TransUnion to correct their credit reports.

Some issues reported are that their credit report fragments into two or more unconnected files upon their name change or are not there at all. Many times their credit scores drop by hundreds of points, precluding them from accessing banking services, mortgages, auto financing, employment, and rental housing. Transgender and nonbinary consumers find that even when they were able to contact and persuade a customer service representative at one of the Big Three credit bureaus to manually fix their report, a new upload of data reverts their credit histories back to fragmented or incomplete files. Some have even reported serious fallout after their credit histories reflected their “deadname” or former name, thereby outing them as transgender to potential employers, rental agents, car dealerships, or financial institutions.

The letter asks the credit reporting industry to:

  • Utilize consumers’ full 9-digit Social Security numbers in matching algorithms to ensure credit information is associated with the correct credit file.
  • Facilitate name changes by having clear procedures to update a consumer’s name on their credit report when presented with a legal name change order and ensure that staff are sufficiently trained in those procedures and are able to provide culturally competent service to transgender and nonbinary consumers.
  • Reduce the burden on transgender and nonbinary consumers to submit name-change documentation to each credit reporting agency by instituting a “one-stop” system that allows a consumer to submit a single request to have the legal name on their report updated, and ensures the request is communicated to all consumer reporting agencies.
  • Prevent the occurrence and recurrence of fragmented credit files by creating procedures to detect when a consumer changes their legal name with a creditor, to associate the new name with their credit file, and to consolidate a consumer’s credit information in their current and previous names in a single credit file — as the industry presently does when cisgender women and other consumers change their last names.
  • Prevent the disclosure of transgender and nonbinary consumers’ deadnames to landlords, employers, and underwriters by disclosing only a consumer’s current legal name in reports provided to credit report users.

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About the National Consumers League (NCL) 

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.

NCL #DataInsecurity Project – National Consumers League

databreach.jpgNCL recently debuted the first issue of The #DataInsecurity Digest, a twice monthly publication curated by NCL’s own, John Breyault, to deliver important consumer-focused data security news, policy and news analysis, and information about upcoming events directly to your inbox. Click here to subscribe.

In 2013, there were 614 data breaches that led to more than 550 million identities compromised. New data breaches means more identity theft and other fraud, and more consumers facing financial loss, great inconvenience, and a loss of trust in the marketplace. That is why NCL is working on the #DataInsecurity Project — to raise awareness about the need for reforms aimed at better protecting consumer data.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z6GD9UNbgAs&list=UUXfyCJGEBaMOTcf5l7W_GTg

Data breaches impact consumers, credit unions, banks, and retailers. Last December, the retail giant Target suffered a massive data breach that made national headlines. In the breach, as many as 110 million identities were compromised.

Take a look at the impact of just this single incident:

  • $200 million: the cost to credit unions and community banks for reissuing 21.8 million credit and debit cards
  • 1-3 million: the estimated number of cards stolen in the Target breach that were sold on the black market and successfully used to commit fraud
  • $18-35.70: the price per card stolen from Target and resold on the black market in the months after the breach

Shocking as these numbers are, they represent the fallout from just a single data breach. Data breaches are happening with frightening regularity.

Malicious hackers are going to continue to exploit existing weaknesses, and many businesses lack the incentive or ability to adequately protect their customer data against evolving threats. That is why NCL believes that consumers need to be proactive about protecting their own data and calling on policymakers for improvements.

The current landscape of protection for consumer data is woefully inadequate.

NCL’s #DataInsecurity Project is calling for reforms such as:

  • Creating a national data breach notification standard, modeled on strong state protections such as California’s;
  • Requiring businesses that maintain consumers’ personal data to protect that information via specific data security requirements;
  • Giving the Federal Trade Commission and state Attorneys General civil penalty authority to enforce violations of data security requirements;
  • Increasing civil and criminal penalties for malicious hacking;
  • Increasing efforts to enhance cooperation with international partners to bring overseas hackers to justice; and
  • Requiring retailers and banks to implement the highest level of security available to protect consumers’ payment data.

To promote these goals, NCL is taking its #DataInsecurity Project on the road to four states across the country, to meet with policymakers, industry experts, consumer advocates, law enforcement officials, and members of the academic and business community. The tour is designed to raise awareness about the frequency of data breaches and to encourage the adoption of comprehensive reforms so that consumers can be better protected.

As a part of the #DataInsecurity Project, NCL has also unveiled important new research by Javelin Strategy & Research investigating the impact of data breaches on consumer trust, on who consumers feel should be responsible for their data, and on current responses to data breaches. Check out NCL’s survey report.

You can get involved!

Help us send the message that the time for reform is now! Sign our petition to the White House calling on policymakers to step up and protect consumers’ data.