Equifax CEO Rick Smith received a 20% pay increase last year, to $13.4 million, as he and other top executives saw raises partly because the Atlanta-based credit-reporting firm awarded large chunks of stock last year that accounted for more than half of their pay, according to a report in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The 53-year-old's compensation last year included $4.5 million in salary and bonuses, a $1.8 million increase in the value of his pension and $105,571 in perks.

Last year, Equifax switched an estimated half of those stock awards to what's called "performance shares," joining a trend seen other companies. Equifax’s executives are not able to keep all of the stock awards unless the company’s shares perform better than the overall stock market over the next three years.

If the company beats those targets, Smith’s 2012 stock awards could be worth as much as $11.3 million, Equifax said in a proxy statement filed this week.

Equifax estimated that Smith’s stock award last year was worth an estimated $7.1 million, more than double his previous year’s award.

Equifax’s revenues rose 10% last year, to $2.2 billion, and profits gained almost 17%, to $272 million. Shareholders saw a total return of nearly 42%.

A recent Federal Trade Commission study of the U.S. credit reporting industry found that 5% of consumers had errors on one of their three major credit reports that could lead to them paying more for products such as auto loans and insurance.

Approximately two dozen states, including Georgia, are investigating consumers’ complaints that errors are difficult to correct. Equifax and the other agencies counter that most consumers have been able to correct errors satisfactorily. Equifax recently said it is streamlining the process to verify and correct credit records.

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