TransUnion Rental Screening Solutions Report With Errors

  • TransUnion Rental Screening Solutions Report With Errors
04 Apr, 2024
Daniel Cohen
7 min
309
Meeting about housing

Denied due to TransUnion errors? You have rights! Fix the Errors to Get Your Life Back on Track!

When TransUnion background check and credit report errors cause your rental application to be denied, the consequences can be sweeping. Find out how to recover from TransUnion errors and protect your rights. We explain everything you need to know to fix the errors, secure housing, get legal advice, and get compensation for your damages.

You are likely most familiar with TransUnion as one of the three credit bureaus, along with Experian and Equifax. But TransUnion also operates as TransUnion Rental Screening Solutions, Inc. (TURSS), specializing in selling reports to landlords and property management companies to screen tenants during the application process. TURSS developed and utilizes a software platform called SmartMove, which rental applicants and property managers engage with to complete the tenant screenings.

To fully understand the role TURSS plays in our rental economy and the outsized consequences that result from reporting errors, it is helpful to be reminded of the role TransUnion plays in our economy as a whole. I’ll explain all of this and describe ways to protect yourself, defend your rights, get legal help, find a resolution, and pursue compensation through a lawsuit.

Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about TURSS and what to do when errors in your tenant screening report result in a rental denial or loss of housing.

What is TransUnion?

Whether or not you’ve heard of TransUnion before, you should know that it is one of three companies referred to as credit bureaus, along with Experian and Equifax. Despite the incredibly official sounding name, the credit bureaus are just the three largest and most often utilized consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) in the nation. There are actually many CRAs, and the Federal Consumer Protection Bureau keeps a list on its website if you’re curious.

CRA is a term established under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). The FCRA is a federal law enacted to protect consumers in various ways when dealing with economic or data-driven power imbalances between corporations and people. Any company that qualifies as a CRA must follow certain legal standards set forth under the FCRA and any comparable state laws.

How Does TransUnion Work?

TransUnion and other CRAs buy data from the companies you have direct financial relationships with, such as credit card companies, service providers, banks, lenders, and other similar entities. Those companies are called data furnishers under the FCRA because they furnish (or provide) data to the CRAs. TransUnion also buys data from third-party companies that don’t have a direct relationship with consumers but use algorithms to scan and collect data from different municipal, county, and court records.

TransUnion and other CRAs use their own algorithms to gather, review, and compile data into credit reports and assign a numerical designation meant to encapsulate a person’s creditworthiness into a meaningful assessment tool, a credit score.

TransUnion resident screening is regularly selected as one of the best and most frequently utilized tenant screening tools by tech and real estate reviewers. This means that a TransUnion resident screening report containing errors poses a risk of broad harm to the consumer who is impacted. Thankfully, most consumer screening reports, whether for employment, housing, loans, or other purposes, are generally accurate. However, the prevalence of TransUnion screening reports in the rental market means that if you’re one of the unlucky consumers whose report contains errors, it might not be easy to get approved for a different rental property while you dispute the errors that caused you to be rejected in the first place.

What is TURSS vs. SmartMove?

TURSS is the segment of TransUnion that focuses explicitly on rental screenings using a similar methodology as it does to compile a traditional credit report. TURSS relies on algorithms to gather, review, and compile consumer data specifically tailored to the rental market. As stated above, TURSS utilizes a platform called SmartMove as the interface between rental applicants and property management companies.

So, whether you are familiar with TransUnion Rental Screening Solutions, TURSS, or SmartMove, for your purposes in figuring out what the heck went wrong with your rental report, they are all the same.

What does a TransUnion Rental Screening Solutions report show?

A TURSS report shows an applicant's composite rental profile across various categories and generates a Resident Score, much like a credit score.

Resident Score

TURSS states that it uses a proprietary method to transform an applicant’s credit history and credit score into a Resident Score. Scaled similarly, a TransUnion Resident Score ranges from 350-850, draws on data from 500,000 resident-specific records, and purports to encapsulate a consumer’s likelihood of being a successful tenant. Such things as evictions, late payments, and broken lease obligations are part of the formula.

Credit Report

As one of the credit bureaus, TransUnion generates credit reports for rental applicants just as it does for consumers seeking access to other financial products, such as auto loans and mortgages. Credit reports broadly analyze all debts, assets, obligations, payment history, etc.

However, TURSS also offers an upgraded credit report product called a “Tenant Credit Report,” which includes a detailed breakdown of the credit factors that go into generating the Resident Score.

Eviction History

Like other tenant screening services, TURSS provides a detailed review of an applicant’s eviction history. However, it claims to be able to match applicants to a greater number of potential hits with even more limited information. We see this as precisely the kind of reckless data mining likely to fuel an abundance of false hits.

Income Information in TransUnion Tenant Screening

TURSS markets its income evaluation as a tool for determining which applicants require detailed income verification by the property manager and which don’t. It basically utilizes available data to generate an estimated annual income for the applicant and then compares the TURSS estimate against the applicant’s self-reported income.

TransUnion Criminal Rental Screening Report

The criminal background check includes an analysis of multi-state data and most-wanted databases.

Social Trace

An applicant’s social security number is an important piece of the identity verification component.

Sex Offender Data

Applicant information is run against the National Sex Offender Public Registry to identify convicted sex offenders in any state.

Mistakes on My TransUnion Rental Screening Report

It is an understatement to say that TransUnion generates errors in its rental screening reports. The reality is that TransUnion is rapidly developing a reputation as one of the worst offenders when it comes to reckless disregard for accuracy in the world of consumer data profiteering.

How do errors happen in TransUnion Resident Screening Report?

Rental screening platforms like the one utilized by TransUnion gather and compile data from a vast network of data streams and resources, favoring algorithms to human involvement. While algorithms are exceptional at rapid and broad data gathering, they are less so at identifying potential data conflicts or applying critical nuance to ensure accuracy.

Frequently, errors in credit and background checks result from such things as:

  1. Input or data entry errors: As data is entered into a system, it is inadvertently entered incorrectly, creating the appearance of inaccurate, misleading, or false “facts” about a consumer.
  2. Mixed files: Data from two different consumers is co-mingled into a single file. This typically happens when the individuals have basic similarities (name, birth date, or the like).
  3. Identity theft: Unauthorized access to and use of someone’s identity can cause all kinds of data disruptions and generate unjust and inaccurate information. We recommend using privacy and security software and best practices to help prevent it from occurring in the first place.

However, understanding how these data errors happen is only part of the story. The real concern is how these data errors get included in credit and TransUnion background checks or, in the case of TURSS, in rental screenings. There is only one cause of bad reporting, and it is:

  • The failure on the part of TransUnion to develop and implement adequate review protocols. Despite a persistent failure to ensure accuracy in its reporting (see below) and an expectation of legal compliance with the standards outlined in the FCRA, TransUnion continues to lack any real incentive to improve its data analysis and review. This is likely because a slower, human-centric review is best suited to this type of accuracy assurance. But the latter would increase costs in a way that most CRAs, including TransUnion, are not willing to pay. This gap between profit margins and accuracy is one of the central hurdles to meaningful process improvements.

Can I sue TransUnion if My Screening Report Includes Errors?

Yes, you can hire a lawyer to sue TURSS if your rental screening includes errors, and instead of getting an application approval, you received a wrongful and unfair rejection. Credit, background, and rental screening errors cause real financial and emotional harm and adversely impact your ability to secure adequate housing. And the FCRA grants you the right to file a TransUnion Rental Screening Solutions lawsuit for the reporting of wrongful data.

In addition, while blatant errors clearly constitute misreporting, it is important to note that many state laws also set statutes of limitations on reporting certain information that is otherwise accurate. So, sometimes, even reporting accurate information can constitute an error if the information, by law, should not have been in the report in the first place.

For instance, the look-back period for certain criminal or eviction history can differ from state to state. So, including data about an eviction from seven years prior may be technically accurate but still a violation of state law, which renders TransUnion legally liable for its reporting.

These state-level, nuanced discrepancies regarding the details of what can and cannot be included in various TransUnion reports are a great reason to have a quick conversation with a skilled consumer protection lawyer like those at Consumer Attorneys if you feel that a rental denial was unfair, even if the factual basis of the denial is correct. Your instincts about fairness may align with a state reporting law and constitute an error.

Lawsuits Against TransUnion Employment Screening (TURSS)

Each year, many people have to file lawsuits against TransUnion and other CRAs due to errors in background and credit check reports and rental screenings that result in loan, employment, and housing rejections and other problems. The proliferation of reporting errors causes financial and emotional harm to consumers daily.

And worse yet, CRAs such as TURSS are frequently unwilling to effectively or timely investigate and correct their own errors. Instead, companies like TransUnioftently deploy roadblocks, stalls, and delays or engage in inadequate or ineffective investigations, resulting in even greater and prolonged harm to the impacted individual.

Filing a lawsuit against TransUnion is a tool for reclaiming your fiscal story and empowering yourself to fight for your rights. The FCRA also recognizes this, which is why the right to file a lawsuit is included among the many regulations aimed at the consumer data industry.

Consumer Attorneys Case Highlights

Misleading Eviction History

When our client, Sharon, applied for a rental, she was shocked to learn she’d been denied due to a prior “forcible detainer action” (aka, an eviction). Her TURSS rental screening report indicated that the action had been filed, but it failed to indicate that it had also quickly been dismissed. Sharon hadn’t even known about the action, nor had she ever been evicted from any residence. In fact, she and her husband lived at the address implicated in the forcible detainer action for two years past the date on which it was filed. Notably, her husband’s TURSS rental screening report did not list the “forcible detainer action.”

We successfully argued that by reporting such misleading information in Sharon’s rental screening, TURSS failed to use “reasonable procedures to assure maximum possible accuracy,” as the law requires. A basic review of the data would have clearly picked up on the fact that the action was dismissed, Sharon was never notified or evicted, she lived at the residence for years past the date of the filing, and her husband’s rental screening was clear of evictions. We won compensation, justice, and peace of mind for Sharon and her husband.

False Criminal History

Our client, Robert, looking for housing for his family after a move to a new state, applied for a rental property, but his application was denied by the property management company, who treated him in a dismissive and rude manner. Robert came to learn that his TURSS rental screening falsely reported an extensive criminal history for him, including felony charges related to burglaries, armed robbery, and cocaine- none of which were true! Robert’s full name is common, and TURSS appeared to have done almost nothing to review and exclude criminal conviction data that belonged to others with the same name. In fact, the mixed data came from multiple other men, including one who had a totally different middle name and one who only used Robert’s name as an alias.

We filed a lawsuit against TURSS and demonstrated that the egregious mistakes included in Robert’s screening were outside the expectations of the law and contrary to the interests of consumer protection standards. We secured a sizeable settlement for Robert, cleared up his rental record, and restored his life.

TransUnion and the CFPB

Notably, in October of 2023, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) directly targeted TURSS with a $15 million proposed fine for its abysmal handling of the rental screening process. The joint punitive move against TURSS comes after a finding that it failed to ensure accuracy in rental reporting and refused to provide applicants with the names of the companies supplying TURSS with inaccurate data.

Of the $15 million, $11 million will go to consumers impacted by these errors, and $4 million will be collected as a penalty. CFPB and FTC Take Actions Against TransUnion for Illegal Rental Background Check and Credit Reporting Practices.

This action against TURSS also corresponds with a separate CFPB action against the main branch of the company for lying to consumers about certain credit freezes. The latter saw an additional $8 million dollar fine levied against the credit giant.

Benefits of Professional Legal Support with TransUnion Rental Screening Dispute and TURSS Claims

A skilled and experienced attorney can help streamline the dispute process from step one through to filing a lawsuit. Having a trusted legal resource, like one of the lawyers at Consumer Attorneys, to guide you through the legal landscape and around the numerous pitfalls and challenges that commonly occur is extremely important when waging a battle against a corporation as dominant as TransUnion.

Because there are so many factual and legal considerations in these situations, we recommend contacting Consumer Attorneys before you even file a TransUnion Rental Screening dispute.

How Much Does it Cost?

At Consumer Attorneys, we do not charge anything for your initial consultation. It’s completely free. We know that you need to talk to one of our lawyers before you know if you need one of our lawyers.

And you will never pay anything out of pocket, even after the free consultation. Does this mean that we don’t charge for our legal services? No, we absolutely do charge for our services because we work really hard on your behalf. But YOU will never pay our bills because the law makes the companies we sue pay them for you when we win.

If we don’t win, we don’t get paid.

Beware Credit Repair Companies

If you haven’t already, you will eventually find companies that market themselves as easy credit repair agencies. Frequently, this means that you guarantee them an amount of money upfront, and they don’t guarantee you anything, not even a successful resolution to the errors in your TransUnion rental screening.

These companies flood the web with advertising because there are so many rental screening errors that they see it as big business. But what they don’t tell you is that working with a consumer protection attorney instead of them has significant advantages, including:

  • No out-of-pocket cost to you. Ever.
  • Access to extensive legal training, knowledge, and experience.
  • Working with a professional who is bound by legal and ethical standards of excellence.
  • Being able to sue TransUnion for resolution and compensation.

We’re not just someone else looking to cash in on your bad luck. We’re the people the FCRA empowered to help you. This is why the law makes TransUnion pay our costs and fees- so that you pay nothing out of pocket.

Ask for Our Help Now

With no out-of-pocket cost to you, there is nothing to lose in discussing your TransUnion reporting error with one of our skilled consumer protection lawyers.

There are several ways to reach us: call +1 877-615-1725, email info@consumerattorneys.com, fill out the online intake form, or use the virtual chat option to speak with us today.

From coast to coast, we’re right where you need us to be.

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About the author
Daniel Cohen
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Daniel Cohen is a Founding Partner of Consumer Attorneys and a co-chair of Consumer Finance Litigation practice. Since 2017, he is a member of the National Association of Consumer Advocates and the National Consumer Law Center. Mr. Cohen is a nationally-recognized practitioner of consumer protection law. He has a wealth of proven legal experience in the US in: collective claims, representing visually impaired people who believe their rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act have been violated in both the physical and digital environments, corporate governance and dispute resolution. Read more

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