- Associated Press - Monday, July 16, 2012

NEW YORK — The companies that determine Americans’ credit scores are about to come under government oversight for the first time.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said Monday that it will start supervising the 30 largest firms that make up 94 percent of the industry. That includes the three big credit reporting firms: Equifax Inc., Experian PLC and TransUnion LLC.

In remarks prepared for a speech Monday, Richard Cordray, the government agency’s director, said that scorekeeping by credit bureaus plays such a large role in Americans’ financial lives that it requires scrutiny.

The CFPB said its oversight may include on-sight examinations, and that it may require credit bureaus to file reports.

Mr. Cordray said the agency’s oversight will extend to niche companies that “focus on payday loans or checking accounts, as well as resellers of credit reports and those that analyze credit report information.”

The announcement wasn’t a total surprise, said Jon Ulzheimer, president of consumer education at SmartCredit.com and a former Equifax employee. He said the CFPB hinted earlier this year that it was considering supervising the industry.

TECHNOLOGY

Microsoft revamps Office for tablets, Internet

SAN FRANCISCO — Microsoft Corp. unveiled a new version of its widely used, lucrative suite of word processing, spreadsheet and email programs, designed specifically with tablet computers and Internet-based storage in mind.

Like an upcoming redesign of Microsoft’s Windows operating system, the new Office will respond to touch as well as commands delivered on a computer keyboard or mouse. The addition of touch-based controls will enable Office to extend its franchise into the rapidly growing tablet computer market. Apple Inc. dominates that market with the iPad, though Microsoft has plans to compete with its own tablet, called Surface.

Microsoft said the new Office was designed as a service first, so the programs can run easily on multiple devices connected to the Internet.

The programs will store documents online through Microsoft’s SkyDrive service by default, meaning users will have to change settings to store documents on their own computers. The programs also will remember settings, including where you last left off in a document, as you move locations. The Internet-based services approach is one Google has been promoting with its own suite of similar programs.

CALIFORNIA

Largest public pension fund earns dismal 1%

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The nation’s largest public pension fund reported a dismal 1 percent return on its investments, a figure far short of projections that likely will add pressure on California’s state and local governments to contribute more, officials said Monday.

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