Equifax accused of breaching consumer law

credit reporting

The ACCC has initiated proceedings in the Federal Court against Equifax (formerly Veda), alleging the credit reporting bureau made false or misleading representations to consumers between June 2013 and March 2017, in breach of consumer laws.

Allegations include that Equifax claimed that its paid credit reports were more comprehensive than free reports, when they were not. It is also alleged that Equifax indicated that consumers had to purchase credit reporting packages for the bureau to correct information about them, despite a legal requirement for the bureau to take reasonable steps to correct the information for free.

In addition, the ACCC has alleged that the renewal term in Equifax’s agreement, which provided that subscriptions automatically renewed annually unless the consumer opted out in advance, is an unfair contract term, void under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL).

The ACCC’s overall allegations is that Equifax acted unconscionably in its dealings with vulnerable consumers including by making false or misleading representations, and using unfair tactics and undue pressure when dealing with people in financial hardship.

“We allege that Equifax acted unconscionably in selling its fee-based credit reporting services to vulnerable consumers, who were often in difficult financial circumstances,” she said.

“We allege that Equifax told people they needed to buy credit reporting services from them in situations when they did not. It is important for consumers to know they have the legal right to obtain their credit report and to correct any wrong information for free.

“By law, consumers are entitled to access their credit reporting information for free once a year, or if they have applied for, and been refused, credit within the past 90 days, or where the request for access relates to a decision by a credit reporting body or a credit provider to correct information included in the credit report.”

To find out how to access your free credit report, visit the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner’s webpage.