Consumer Data Industry Makes Credit Scores Easier to Access
The trade group representing the credit-reporting industry announced this week a plan to improve data reporting, while taking steps to remove certain consumer debts from credit reports or delay when they appear.
It hasn’t always been easy to get a credit report—especially if you’ve requested a report sometime in the past 12 months.
But the industry’s main credit-reporting agencies, represented by the Consumer Industry Data Association, are making some changes on that front, and the benefits for consumers are likely to be significant.
On Monday, CIDA announced the launch of the new National Consumer Assistance Plan. The plan makes it easier for consumers to receive a second credit report within the span of a year for free in the case of an error discovered on the first one, and it changes the rules for how certain kinds of debts are reported. Among the changes:
- Government debts, such as traffic tickets, may no longer be included in a credit report. Only debts agreed upon by a contract—like an electricity bill or credit card debt—can be reported.
- Medical bills will now be subject to a 180-day waiting period before being counted as debts on a credit report, allowing time for the bills to be processed and paid by insurance companies.
“While we are pleased that the most recent comprehensive study by the Federal Trade Commission showed that credit reports are materially accurate 98 percent of the time, we are always looking for ways to improve our procedures, and this consumer assistance plan will allow us to do that,” CIDA President and CEO Stuart Pratt said in a news release. “While all three nationwide credit bureaus have been and continue to operate in compliance with the applicable federal and state laws, we have never hesitated to go beyond the letter of the law to voluntarily improve the existing credit reporting environment.”
The groundwork for the plan was laid after New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office began an investigation of credit-reporting companies in 2012 because of consumer complaints about errors in the reports.
Schneiderman welcomed the move, saying the announcement “is a good sign that the reporting agencies are finally willing to step up their game and respond to the needs of hardworking consumers and their families.”