(AP) A Florida woman has sued Equifax claiming she was denied a car loan because of a 130-point mistake in her credit report that she says was part of a larger group of credit score errors the ratings agency made this spring due to a coding problem.
The class action lawsuit was filed in federal court in Atlanta on behalf of Nydia Jenkins and potentially millions of others who applied for credit during a three-week period earlier this year. The Jacksonville, Florida woman was forced to accept another, less favorable loan that was $150 per month more than the one she was turned down for because of the error, according to the lawsuit.
Credit scores provide lenders with a picture of how a big a risk a borrower is, and they typically range from 300 to 850 points, with a higher score usually resulting in better terms for people applying for mortgages, auto loans or mortgages. The lawsuit says the errors violated federal law that governs credit reporting agencies.
“In the modern economy, millions of Americans rely on credit to make the most important purchases of their lives, from homes to cars to appliances and everything in between,” John Morgan and John Yanchunis, the attorneys representing Jenkins, said in a statement. “We believe that many of the people impacted – some of whom may still be unaware of what happened – suffered severe financial consequences.”
The errors occurred over three weeks from mid-March to early April. An analysis Equifax conducted shows that there was no shift in a majority of credit scores, and for those who did experience a change, only a small number would have received a different credit decision, Equifax said in an emailed statement on Thursday.
“While the score may have shifted, a score shift does not necessarily mean that a consumer’s credit decision was negatively impacted,” the Equifax statement said.
Equifax said in another statement earlier this week that the problems stemmed from a coding issue that “resulted in the potential miscalculation of certain attributes used in model calculations.” In that statement, the firm said less than 300,000 consumers had a score shift of 25 points or more.
“Again, we do not take this issue lightly,” Equifax said.
Besides seeking an undisclosed amount of damages “to the fullest extent allowable by law,” the lawsuit is asking for an audit to identify which customers’ credit scores were affected; money for credit repair services; and the establishment of a fund to reimburse customers for any out-of-pocket expenses they incurred from the errors.
In 2017, hackers broke into Equifax in a breach that exposed the financial information of 147 million Americans. A federal court in 2020 approved a $380 million settlement of class actions lawsuits, with no finding or judgment of wrongdoing made. The settlement required Equifax to invest a minimum $1 billion over five years on data security.