Experian plc, formerly known as CCN Systems, is a global information services group with operations in 41 countries. The company employs 15,500 people with corporate headquarters in Dublin, Ireland and operational headquarters in Nottingham, England, Costa Mesa, California, US and São Paulo, Brazil. The Company was founded by John Peace in 1980 in Nottingham as CCN systems. In 1996 GUS plc acquired the US credit reporting business Experian from Bain Capital and combined Experian with CCN.
Experian’s principal lines of business are credit services, marketing solutions, decision analytics and interactive services. The company collects information on people, businesses, motor vehicles and insurance. It also collects ‘lifestyle’ data from online and offline surveys.
Like the other major credit reporting bureaus, Experian is chiefly regulated in the United States by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003, signed into law in 2003, amended the FCRA to require the credit reporting companies to provide consumers with one free copy of their credit report per 12 month period. Like its main competitors, TransUnion and Equifax, they market credit reports directly to consumers. Experian heavily markets its for-profit credit reporting service, FreeCreditReport.com, and all three agencies have been criticized and even sued for selling credit reports that can be obtained at no cost.
Experian US handles its credit disputes in its National Consumer Assistance Center (NCAC) in Allen, Texas. You may contact the NCAC once you have a copy of your personal credit report by calling the number that is located on the personal credit report itself. Experian opened a second NCAC in Santiago, Chile during the summer of 2007. Many divisions of the Allen NCAC as well as several other business functions including software development have been relocated to the Chile location.
Experian provides regional data at nationalscoreindex.com which shows average credit scores by region and zip code as well as various other measures of household debt. The site does not indicate if it uses a FICO based credit score, the new VantageScore, or some other scoring model.
The company’s largest operation is Experian North America, a consumer credit reporting agency that is considered one of the three largest American credit agencies along with Equifax and TransUnion.
EXPERIAN FTC VIOLATIONS
In August 2005 Experian accepted a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over charges that they had violated a previous settlement with the FTC. The FTC’s allegations concerned customers who signed up for the “free credit report” at the Experian owned consumerinfo.com site. The FTC alleged that ads for the “free credit report” did not adequately disclose that Experian would automatically enroll customers in its’ $79.95 credit-monitoring program.