Kathleen G. Kane - Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General - Protecting Pennsylvanians

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June 27, 2008

Attorney General Corbett urges consumers to review information about free "credit scores;" reminds consumers about free annual credit reports

Credit1-250x275HARRISBURG - Attorney General Tom Corbett urged Pennsylvanians to review information about a recent legal settlement  which could give consumers across the country access to a free version of their credit score. 

Corbett explained that one of the major U.S. credit bureaus, TransUnion, recently agreed to provide virtually every adult in America with access to a free version of their credit score under a proposed settlement for a class-action lawsuit. The settlement (In re Trans Union Corp. Privacy Litigation) stems from allegations that TransUnion sold consumers' personal information without their permission in the early 1990's. 

"Credit scores are a useful tool - especially when combined with other credit report information - helping consumers gauge how potential lenders and creditors may view them as customers," Corbett said. "Federal law already gives consumers the right to a free copy of their credit report every year, but credit bureaus are allowed to charge a fee for your actual credit score."

Corbett said the settlement with TransUnion affects all consumers who had an open credit account or line-of-credit between January 1, 1987 and May 28, 2008.  That means anyone with a car loan, credit card, department store card, student loan, mortgage or other form of credit during that timeframe - an estimated 160-million consumers - is eligible. 

Corbett explained that in order to resolve the allegations included in the lawsuit, TransUnion has agreed to provide several options to consumers who chose to participate in the proposed settlement.  These options include two different levels of free credit monitoring services, one that is available for six months and includes access to a credit score from TransUnion, or an "enhanced" nine months of free credit monitoring services, which includes access to a credit score and other services, including a mortgage simulator.

According to the settlement terms, consumers who choose the enhanced option will give up their right to sue TransUnion for the claims asserted in the lawsuits.  Consumers who choose the enhanced option also agree to give up their chance of receiving a possible monetary payment at a later time from a settlement fund to be established by TransUnion. No consumer is required to participate in the settlement, and consumers are also free to file their own private legal action against TransUnion.

Corbett noted that the settlement is subject to final court approval in September, but added that consumers can review information now regarding the case and submit a form indicating which settlement benefits, if any, they wish to receive. Details are available by calling the TransUnion settlement number, at (866) 416-3470, or on the official settlement website: https://www.listclassaction.com.

Corbett added that all consumers, regardless of whether they participate in the settlement, are eligible for free annual credit reports through www.annualcreditreport.com.

"Every consumer should take advantage of the free credit reports that are available to them each year," Corbett said.  "These reports provide valuable information about your credit history and can also help identify possible instances of identity theft."

Consumers who are interested in knowing their credit score, but would rather not pay for the information, should consider whether participation in the TransUnion settlement is something that is right for them.  Additionally, several websites offer free credit score simulators which can give you an estimate of your actual score without disclosing personal information.