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See more recent story: Deadline passed for free TransUnion credit monitoring
Millions of consumers will soon be eligible for free credit monitoring for nine months as the result of a tentative class action lawsuit settlement announced today.
The settlement addresses charges that were pending for many years surrounding the way that TransUnion — one of the three large credit reporting bureaus in the United States — once sold marketing lists. “As part of the settlement we’ll be providing consumers up to nine months of credit monitoring,” said Colleen Ryan, TransUnion’s vice president of corporate and community affairs.
A huge number of borrowers stand to benefit. The settlement (see TransUnion settlement details emerge) represents an opportunity for millions of consumers to enjoy the credit monitoring services that TransUnion already provides, but for free. That group essentially encompasses “consumers who were credit active from January 1, 1987, until yesterday,” Ryan said. That includes anyone who had an auto loan, a credit card, a department store card, a student loan or a mortgage.
The credit monitoring service usually costs $11.95 per month after a 30-day free trial.
TransUnion expressed satisfaction with the outcome. “We are really very pleased that the settlement entitles so many consumers to these benefits, because it is a real benefit,” said Ryan. “It presents an opportunity for consumers who want to be more involved in monitoring their credit health.”
Ed Mierzwinski, consumer program director for the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, was unimpressed. “Credit bureaus fail to protect information from ID thieves, then set up overpriced protection rackets, then sometimes get caught for deceptive marketing,” Mierzwinski said. “I would never pay for monitoring. The security freeze is better. Consumers need to be wary that they aren’t tricked into paying for more monitoring at the end of the 9 months.”
The target marketing business was discontinued in 2001. In reaching this settlement, TransUnion acknowledged no wrongdoing. “We always belived that the practices in question were lawful,” Ryan said, highlighting the increase in concerns over consumer privacy in recent years as a cause for the suit.
The company was accused in the suit of violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act. A judge in the Eastern Division of the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Illinois granted preliminary approval of the settlement on Wednesday.
TransUnion is working quickly to get a Web site up and running that will further outline the benefits for eligible consumers at listclassaction.com. It should be available to consumers by June 16, the company said.