FTC: Equifax Kept Consumers on Hold Too Long

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Credit reporting agency Equifax Inc. paid $250,000 to settle a federal complaint that it failed to provide prompt service to consumers calling a toll-free line to obtain their credit reports, the Federal Trade Commission said yesterday.

Equifax failed to provide enough personnel answering calls on the hotline, the FTC said. Blocked-call rates and hold times exceeded limits set forth in a 2000 agreement in which Equifax a settled a lawsuit alleging Fair Credit Reporting Act violations, according to the FTC.

Equifax failed to meet the specified performance standards during certain periods of 2001, the FTC said.

In the 2000 agreement, the three credit reporting agencies, including Equifax, settled charges that they blocked calls from about 1 million consumers who called the toll-free hotline to obtain the contents of their credit reports and kept others on hold for unreasonably lengthy periods. In addition to agreeing to performance standards, the reporting agencies paid $2.5 million as part of the settlement.

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