Equifax

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Equifax Inc.
Type Public company
Traded as NYSEEFX
S&P 500 Component
Industry Credit risk assessment
Founded 1899
Headquarters Atlanta, Georgia, United States
Area served Worldwide
Key people Richard F. Smith
(Chairman and CEO)
Revenue Increase US$ 1.860 billion (2010)[1]
Operating income Increase US$ 430.0 million (2010)[1]
Net income Increase US$ 266.7 million (2010)[1]
Total assets Decrease US$ 3.443 billion (2010)[1]
Total equity Increase US$ 1.708 billion (2010)[1]
Employees 6,500 (December 2010)[2]
Website equifax.com

Equifax Inc. is a consumer credit reporting agency in the United States, considered one of the three largest American credit agencies along with Experian and TransUnion. Founded in 1899, Equifax is the oldest of the three agencies and gathers and maintains information on over 400 million credit holders worldwide. Based in Atlanta, Georgia, Equifax is a global service provider with US $1.5 billion in annual revenue and 7,000+ employees in 14 countries. Equifax is listed on the NYSE.

History[edit]

Equifax was founded in Atlanta, GA, as Retail Credit Company in 1899. The company grew quickly and by 1920 had offices throughout the US and Canada. By the 1960s, Retail Credit Company was one of the nation's largest credit bureaus, holding files on millions of American and Canadian citizens. Even though they still did credit reporting the majority of their business was making reports to insurance companies when people applied for new insurance policies including life, auto, fire and medical insurance. All of the major insurance companies used RCC to get information on health, habits, morals, use of vehicles and finances. They also investigated insurance claims and made employment reports when people were seeking new jobs. Most of the credit work was then being done by a subsidiary, Retailers Commercial Agency.

Retail Credit Company's extensive information holdings, and its willingness to sell them to anyone, attracted criticism of the company in the 1960s and 1970s. These included that it collected "...facts, statistics, inaccuracies and rumors… about virtually every phase of a person's life; his marital troubles, jobs, school history, childhood, sex life, and political activities." The company was also alleged to reward its employees for collecting negative information on consumers.[3]

As a result, when the company moved to computerize its records, which would lead to much wider availability of the personal information it held, the US Congress held hearings in 1970. These led to the enactment of the Fair Credit Reporting Act in the same year which gave consumers rights regarding information stored about them in corporate databanks. It is alleged that the hearings prompted the Retail Credit Company to change its name to Equifax in 1975 to improve its image.[3]

The company later expanded into commercial credit reports on companies in the US, Canada and the UK, where it came into competition with companies such as Dun & Bradstreet and Experian. The insurance reporting was phased out. The company also had a division selling specialist credit information to the insurance industry but spun off this service, including the Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange (CLUE) database as ChoicePoint in 1997. The company formerly offered digital certification services, which it sold to GeoTrust in September 2001. In the same year, Equifax spun off its payment services division, forming the publicly listed company Certegy, which subsequently acquired Fidelity National Information Services in 2006. Certegy effectively became a subsidiary of Fidelity National Financial as a result of this reverse acquisition merger (See Certegy and Fidelity National Information Services for further information).

In October 2010, Equifax acquired Anakam, an identity verification software company.[4]

Equifax purchased eThority, a business intelligence (BI) company headquartered in Charleston, South Carolina in October 2011. eThority is partnering with TALX, a St. Louis-based business unit of Equifax, and will remain in Charleston. [5]

Equifax Workforce Solutions is one of the 55 contractors hired by the United States Department of Health and Human Services to work on the HealthCare.gov web site. [6]

Lawsuits and fines against Equifax[edit]

The company has been fined by the Federal Trade Commission on two occasions for violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act. In 2000, Equifax, along with Experian and TransUnion, was fined $2.5 million for blocking and delaying phone calls from consumers trying to get information about their credit. In 2003, the FTC took Equifax to court for the same reason and settled its lawsuit with the company for a fine of $250,000.[7][8]

In July 2013, a federal jury in Oregon awarded $18.6 million to Julie Miller of Marion County against Equifax for violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act.[9] In her lawsuit, Miller alleged Equifax had merged her credit reports with another person with a different Social Security number, date of birth, and address. Miller contacted Equifax repeatedly in writing and over the telephone, but Equifax refused to delete dozens of false collection accounts from Miller’s credit report.[10] The award included $18.4 million in punitive damages, and $180,000 in compensatory damages. Miller’s lawyer, Justin Baxter, explained that the false reporting damaged Miller's reputation, she was denied credit, and her private information was given to businesses Miller had no relationship with.[11] The jury’s verdict is believed to be the largest award in an individual case under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. [12] An Equifax spokesperson said that Equifax is considering appealing the jury’s verdict.[13]

In 2014, Equifax and Heartland Bank are being sued by Kimberly Haman of the St. Louis-area for reporting she was dead.[14][15] A Heartland Bank spokesperson said the bank "immediately investigated and contacted the credit reporting agencies after Haman reported" she was still alive.[14] An Equifax "spokesperson told the Post-Dispatch that Equifax blocked the Heartland account information from appearing on Haman’s credit report after a reporter’s inquiry."[9][14]

In April 2014, Equifax was sued in New York federal court by God Gazarov, who claimed the company erroneously reports him as having no credit history because of his unusual first name.[16]

Products[edit]

For most of its existence, Equifax has operated primarily in the business-to-business sector, selling consumer credit and insurance reports and related analytics to businesses in a range of industries.[citation needed] Business customers include retailers, insurance firms, healthcare providers, utilities, government agencies, as well as banks, credit unions, personal and specialty finance companies and other financial institutions. Equifax sells businesses credit reports, analytics, demographic data, and software. Credit reports provide detailed information on the personal credit and payment history of individuals, indicating how they have honored financial obligations such as paying bills or repaying a loan. Credit grantors use this information to decide what sort of products or services to offer their customers, and on what terms. Equifax also provides commercial credit reports, similar to Dun & Bradstreet, containing financial and non financial data on businesses of all sizes. Equifax collects and provides data through the NCTUE, an exchange of non credit data including consumer payment history on telco and utility accounts.

From 1999, Equifax began offering services to the credit consumer sector in addition, such as credit fraud and identity theft prevention products. Equifax, and other credit monitoring agencies are required by law to provide US citizens with one free credit file disclosure every 12 months; the Annualcreditreport.com website incorporates data from US Equifax credit records.

See also[edit]

References and footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e "2010 Form 10-K, Equifax Inc.". United States Securities and Exchange Commission. February 23, 2011. 
  2. ^ "Company Profile". General Motors. 2010. Retrieved March 26, 2011. 
  3. ^ a b Separating Equifax from fiction, Wired, September 1995, retrieved 13 September 2007
  4. ^ Equifax Acquires Anakam
  5. ^ Kearney, Brendan (October 4, 2011). "Equifax buys local eThority: Company to stay, grow in Charleston, founder says". The Post and Courier. 
  6. ^ USAtoday, front page October 24, 2013, “Hot seat for stealth website builders
  7. ^ Equifax Fined $250,000 Fine By FTC, NBC 10, 3 August 2003, retrieved 13 September 2007
  8. ^ "Equifax to Pay $250,000 to Settle Charges". ConsumerAffairs.com. 2003-07-30. Retrieved 2007-07-23. 
  9. ^ a b Patrick, Robert (8 February 2014). "'Excuse me, I'm not dead' St. Louis County woman pleads to her bank". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved 18 February 2014. 
  10. ^ "An $18 Million Lesson in Handling Credit Report Errors". The New York Times. 2 August 2013. Retrieved 2 August 2013. 
  11. ^ "Equifax must pay $18.6 million after failing to fix Oregon woman's credit report". The Oregonian. Retrieved 26 July 2013. 
  12. ^ "Jury Awards $18.6M For Equifax Credit Report Mix-up". Retrieved 29 July 2013. 
  13. ^ "Equifax weighs appealing $18.6M award to consumer". Retrieved 31 July 2013. 
  14. ^ a b c Weiss, Debra Cassens (11 February 2014). "Woman sues in effort to prove she is alive". ABA Journal. Retrieved 18 February 2014. 
  15. ^ Gershman, Jacob (10 February 2014). "Woman Listed as Deceased Files Lawsuit Claiming She’s Alive". Wall Street Journal Law Blog. Retrieved 18 February 2014. 
  16. ^ White, Martha C. (11 April 2014). "God Just Wants Some Credit, So He's Suing Equifax". NBC News. Retrieved 22 April 2014. 

External links[edit]