Richard Angino thought he had good credit. Then banks started refusing to lend him money.
He soon discovered that one credit reporting agency, TransUnion, was telling banks he had a credit score in the 500s, which lenders consider a sign of poor credit. TransUnion, however, was telling Angino in reports he purchased from the agency that his scores were more than 100 points higher, according to a lawsuit Angino filed against the agency last month.
Angino, a Harrisburg attorney and real estate investor, alleges in his complaint that TransUnion violated consumer protection laws, committed fraud and tarnished his reputation by failing to resolve discrepancies between the credit scores the agency sent him and the ones it sent creditors. He is seeking $5 million in damages.
“I looked further into this, and the (credit reports) that I get, and the ones that consumers get, the ones that the consumer pays for, are accurate,” Angino said in an interview Thursday. “The ones being sent to the banks and being sent to the auto dealerships are totally different, totally inaccurate.”
TransUnion has denied Angino’s allegations, saying in its response to his complaint that its reports concerning him were “true or substantially true” and it “at all times followed reasonable procedures to assure maximum possible accuracy.”
For Angino, the suit is about more than just the money, he said Thursday. It’s a step toward correcting what he sees as a long-running public misconception the public has had of his financial health.
Those misunderstandings started shortly after the 2007-2010 recession when Angino ran into financial difficulties related in part to a $6.2 million commercial loan. Angino has lodged several lawsuits since then against the banks that held his loans, saying their actions leading up to the financial crash caused many of his financial woes.
Angino lost those legal battles. In the years that they took to unfold, however, he righted his financial ship, and Angino said Thursday he has not fallen behind on any payments since about 2015.
But the negative publicity those lawsuits brought to Angino’s reputation has lingered, Angino said. He believes media reports portrayed him and his wife, Alice, as people trying to dodge responsibility for their money problems.
“You can imagine what the effect of our reputation is in this community when we represent people,” he said. “Do they want to come to a law firm when the owner is a deadbeat?”
Angino sees his conflict with TransUnion as another example of a large institution trying to take advantage of consumers. The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, he noted, penalized TransUnion and another credit rating agency just a few months ago for the same practices he accuses them of in his complaint.
Angino hopes correcting the financial record with TransUnion will help him mend his reputation in the court of public opinion.
“Are Richard and Alice Angino deadbeats? Are they suing the banks for their own mistakes?” he said. “Or did the banks do things that are wrong? Did the credit reporting agencies say (things that are) wrong?”