Agencies seek $23 million in penalties from rental screening arm of big three credit reporting company TransUnion

Penalties of $23 million against a subsidiary of one of the big three credit reporting agencies were announced by two federal agencies Thursday for actions that include failing to ensure accurate rental background checks and withholding from renters the names of third parties that were providing the inaccurate information.

The actions were was taken against a rental screening subsidiary of the TransUnion credit reporting agency by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The agencies said the firm – TransUnion Rental Screening Solutions (TURSS) – allegedly violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).

The agencies asserted that TURSS failed to take steps to ensure the rental background checks that landlords use to decide who gets housing were accurate. The agencies also alleged that TURSS withheld, from renters, the names of third parties that were providing the inaccurate information.

The two agencies are asking a federal court to order TURSS to pay penalties totaling $15 million for its actions and “to make significant improvements to how it reports evictions.”

Separately, the CFPB is asking for additional penalties totaling $8 million against TURSS for allegedly lying to consumers about timely placing or removing security freezes and locks on the credit reports of consumers, which the agency said numbered in the tens of thousands.

“The company told consumers the requests were completed when, in reality, the requests were dumped into its yearslong backlog,” the CFPB claimed. “TransUnion also failed to keep active-duty members of the military from pre-screened solicitation lists – a simple step which protects servicemembers from identity theft.”

The CFPB noted that TransUnion (or its subsidiaries) has been subject to four CFPB law enforcement actions across various products, noting that the agency has “taken repeated actions against TransUnion for its subscription plans.”

The complaint filed Thursday in federal court in Colorado (the state in which TURSS is based; TransUnion is based in Chicago), alleges that the firm failed to: take steps to produce accurate reports, identify who provided inaccurate information, timely place or remove security freezes and locks, and protect certain populations from pre-screened solicitation lists.

CFPB and FTC Take Actions Against TransUnion for Illegal Rental Background Check and Credit Reporting Practices