Jimmy Patronis calls on Equifax to resolve credit score error
Last week, Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Florida Jimmy Patronis sent a letter to the credit rating agency Equifax regarding a recent coding error that led to inaccurate reporting of millions of consumer credit scores to potential lenders.
The the wall street journal recently reported that Equifax sent the incorrect scores of people applying for car loans, mortgages and credit cards to banks and non-bank lenders large and small, including JPMorgan Chase & Co., Wells Fargo & Co. and Ally Financial Inc. Scores were sometimes off by 20 points or more in either direction, enough to change the interest rates offered to consumers or cause their applications to be rejected outright.
The letter, which Patronis sent on Thursday, is below.
Dear Mr. Begor,
As Florida’s CFO, protecting consumers when making important financial decisions is of paramount importance to me. That’s why I’m writing to express serious concern about a recent Wall Street Journal report outlining Equifax’s coding error that may have caused millions of consumers’ credit scores to shift by 20 points or more. as well as being inaccurately reported to potential lenders. As a result of this egregious mistake, innocent consumers were likely locked into higher loan rates or outright denied loans on automobiles, credit cards, and even mortgages.
This type of credit report error could have drastically changed the amount of interest a consumer now has to pay over the life of their loan or, even worse, the consumer could have been turned down outright. In my view, this error amounts to money being stolen directly from the pockets of innocent consumers through no fault of their own. With US inflation at historic levels and interest rates steadily rising, the last thing Florida consumers need is to have their financial data affected by a sloppy coding error of this magnitude. Therefore, it is crucial that Equifax provide the State of Florida with more information about this coding error and detailed steps on how to restore integrity to affected consumers.
Accordingly, I request answers to the following questions within 30 days of receipt of this letter:
1. Has Equifax notified all borrowers who were affected by this coding error?
2. Have all lenders been notified of this coding error?
3. What steps can lenders take to correct incorrect qualifications in their recent loan applications?
4. If a consumer was locked into a higher rate loan or was denied a loan due to this coding error, what recourse does the consumer have?
5. How will Equifax go about restoring them?
6. What internal procedures does Equifax have in place to ensure this security breach does not repeat itself?
This isn’t the first time a coding error or Equifax data breach has stranded consumers across the country. As recently as 2017, a data breach at Equifax put millions at risk of fraud and scams. With that in mind, I urge your leadership team to take immediate action to ensure that these errors are resolved and that this data breach does not cause continued and lasting harm to Florida families and businesses. Thank you for your attention to this matter. I await your prompt response.