TRANS UNION STATEMENT
Trans Union LLC is pleased with the agreement reached Thursday with the Federal Trade Commission which establishes industry-wide service levels for credit reporting companies’ toll-free consumer service telephone lines. Working closely with the FTC, we have agreed on benchmarks that will ensure continued quality telephone service for consumers calling about information contained in their credit report.
Trans Union’s Oscar Marquis, vice president and general counsel, commented on negotiations with the FTC by saying, “We had a fruitful and worthwhile discussion to arrive at meaningful standards for consumer telephone service. We worked closely with the FTC to draw up these voluntary standards and will continue to work closely with the FTC in the future.”
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) does not contain any specific standards for telephone service levels. It requires only that national consumer reporting companies include a statement on credit report disclosures sent to consumers that the company has a toll-free number at which personnel are accessible to consumers during normal business hours. The law does not define what constitutes “accessible.” The Consent Decree, to which all three national credit reporting companies have agreed, provides that at least 90% of calls placed to the toll-free numbers during normal business hours will be connected to a consumer assistance center and those calls will be answered by a consumer service representative within three-and-one-half minutes on average.
Trans Union’s Consumer Relations Vice President Dave Wolff says, “Trans Union has steadily worked to provide a quality level of service to consumers and in many cases, our answer rate has well exceeded 90 percent. We’ve made additional investments by installing new phone systems and expanding our staffing to enhance this service.”
As one of the nation’s leading consumer credit information companies, Trans Union’s commitment to customer service and consumer privacy remains strong. Marquis adds, “We will continue working diligently not only to meet appropriate service levels — but to exceed them, and to ensure that consumers continue to receive the highest quality service available.” As part of the settlement agreement, Trans Union has agreed to pay the FTC $1 million.
Trans Union’s toll-free telephone service was established in July 1997 for consumers to call and dispute information in their credit report, once they receive a copy in the mail. The consumer service line is available to consumers from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., local time, Monday through Friday, nationwide. Trans Union also provides a 24-hour, seven days a week toll-free number for consumers to request a copy of their credit report for free if they have been denied credit, or for an $8.50 fee in most states if they have not. To protect consumer privacy, Trans Union cannot disclose credit information over the phone. To request a copy, consumers can call 800-888-4213.
Trans Union is one of the nation’s leading information companies, serving all 50 states through its own sales offices and independent credit bureaus. The company provides a broad range of industries with information-based products and services. Trans Union also offers similar products through its operations in Puerto Rico, Canada, Italy, Mexico, South Africa, Hong Kong, Chile, Kenya, Peru and Spain. For more information about Trans Union products or services, visit the company on the Internet at .
Experian Thursday announced the adoption of new service level standards for the treatment of inbound consumer telephone calls.
The move follows discussions over the last year between Experian and the Federal Trade Commission resulting today in a negotiated resolution of an inquiry into Experian’s performance in consumer assistance.
As a result of these new service level standards, Experian has committed to answering consumer calls within an average of three and one-half minutes. Automated systems may be utilized when appropriate, and trained representatives will be made available to consumers who have a valid copy of their Experian credit report.
Other aspects of the adopted service levels include at least 90% of all calls to Experian’s toll-free numbers will be connected to the assistance center without receiving a busy signal. Audits of performance against these service levels will cover each two-week period beginning shortly after the new year. Currently the Experian consumer assistance center receives an average of 1 million phone calls each month.
The standards were adopted as part of a consent decree with the FTC, which also includes the payment of a settlement fee of $1 million.
“It’s all about improving the consumer’s ability to get assistance with questions or concerns about their credit files. It’s what we want, it’s what the FTC wants, and most importantly, it’s beneficial to the consumer. Developing and enacting these industry standards is a win-win for all concerned,” said Maxine Sweet, vice president of Consumer Affairs, Experian.
Consumers obtain a personal credit report from Experian by calling the automated ordering system at 888/EXPERIAN (888/397-3742). The report arrives in about two weeks. Recent re-design of the personal report has resulted in an easy-to-read document with numbered entries that enable clear and efficient consumer assistance. The report is a full disclosure of all the credit information maintained by Experian. Should a consumer have a question about their report, they can contact the company’s consumer assistance center using the toll free number listed on their Experian credit report.
“Experian has invested millions of dollars in its consumer assistance center. The report re-design, improved hardware and software, and customer service training have resulted in a consumer resource we’re very proud of,” said Mike Cook, senior vice president of Experian’s National Consumer Assistance Center. “This operation has implemented changes that have had a real and positive impact on the speed and ease with which the consumer can access their data.”
Experian ([www.experian.com]) is a global information solutions company, which specializes in helping organizations to make more informed business decisions. The company is one of the world’s leading suppliers of information on consumers, businesses, motor vehicles and property. By combining its databases with advanced technology and consultancy services, Experian assists its clients in targeting and acquiring new customers, building successful customer relationships and managing financial risk. The company employs 12,000 people in the United Kingdom, United States, Continental Europe, Africa, Latin America and Asia Pacific. Annual sales are approximately $1.5 billion.
The company’s headquarters are in Nottingham, U.K., and Orange. Experian is a subsidiary of The Great Universal Stores P.L.C., a U.K.-based holding company that includes home shopping, retailing, property investment, finance and information services.
“We are pleased that we have resolved this matter cooperatively. Equifax has long been committed to providing quality service to consumers. And to the contrary, we believe that our operations have been, and are, in full compliance with the 1997 amendments to the Fair Credit Reporting Act concerning ‘accessibility’ to our personnel.
“Nevertheless, resolving any FTC concerns and implementing a common approach are in the best interest of consumers and the credit reporting industry. Accordingly, Equifax worked in concert with the FTC to develop the new service level commitment. A key commitment in the agreement entitles all consumers who receive a credit file disclosure directly from Equifax and then call the toll-free numbers provided in the disclosure materials to speak with a consumer services representative within an average of 3.5 minutes of their request to do so. Equifax has been meeting and, in fact, outperforming this standard, prior to its effectiveness.
“We have always taken and, continue to take, our leadership and stewardship role in the credit reporting industry seriously. We are committed to protecting consumer information, providing consumers a variety of conveniences and services at no cost and educating consumers about money and credit.
“Our commitment is exemplified by the fact that Equifax created the credit reporting industry’s first world-class consumer call center in 1991 and also was the first to provide consumers with toll-free numbers that same year, long before it was addressed by the FCRA. We will continue to operate above and beyond the requirements of the FCRA while developing new and innovative ways to serve consumers and our customers.”
Equifax (), a worldwide leader in shaping global commerce, brings buyers and sellers together through its information management, transaction processing and knowledge-based businesses. Atlanta-based Equifax serves the financial services, retail, credit card, telecommunications/utilities, transportation, information technology and healthcare industries and government. Equifax adds knowledge, expertise, convenience and security to provide value-added solutions and processes for its customers wherever they do business, including the Internet and other networks. Entering its second century in business, Equifax employs more than 13,000 associates in 17 countries with sales in almost 50 and has more than $1.7 billion in revenue.