At the very least someone is paying attention to the practices of credit reporting agencies. Maxine Waters, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from the 43rd Congressional District (South LA County, CA), has proposed sweeping changes to the way the big 3 credit reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax, Transunion) handle consumer information provided by creditors.
Proposed Changes under the Fair Credit Reporting Improvement Act of 2014
The Fair Credit Reporting Improvement Act of 2014 proposes the following changes which would increase millions of consumer credit scores immediately:
- Currently creditors have the legal right to report a derogatory credit item on consumer credit report for 7 years, or 10 years in the case of a bankruptcy. The new bill, if passed, would reduce these time frames to 4 and 7 years respectively.
- Paid or settled delinquent debt remains on a credit report as a derogatory account. The bill would eliminate this although it is unclear as to whether the item would be deleted, upgraded to a ‘Paid as Agreed’ status, or other.
- When a consumer’s account has late payments their credit report reflects those late payments for the previously mentioned 7 year period. The bill would allow for a consumer to make a certain amount of on-time payments (perhaps 9 consecutive months) and have the previous late payments dropped from the report.
- Currently when a consumer disputes an item on their credit report that dispute is reflected on the report preventing them from closing a home loan in some cases. The bill would eliminate reporting of disputes unless the dispute by the consumer is deemed frivolous. Of course, what is deemed frivolous is controlled by the credit bureaus so this may or may not have much positive impact.
- The bill would eliminate the credit bureaus from offering a ‘free trial’ program to obtain their credit score and then switching consumers to a ‘paid program’.
- Currently consumers have the right to one free credit report per year from each of the 3 credit bureaus but they still have to pay for their scores. The bill would force the bureaus to also provide free credit scores once per year.
- Approximately half of all employers run credit checks on applicants. This bill would drastically reduce the number of employers able to do so by categorizing those than can. How this will be done is still unclear.
But Are Positive Changes to the Credit Reporting Agencies Really Coming?
This may be a welcomed bit of news for those in the know of current reporting practices but it isn’t cause to get excited just yet. Business Week stated that the bill is “unlikely to pass”. Business Insider goes further and states that, “the newest credit reporting act doesn’t have a chance”.