Legislators Ponder New Credit Protection Laws

Legislators in Washington, D.C. are considering several credit-related consumer protections as outlined in The Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act of 2003 (H.R. 2622). If approved, consumers could benefit from the most wide-ranging changes to the rules covering consumers and credit in decades.

One of the most important changes would be the right to receive a free annual copy of your credit report, upon request, from the three major credit reporting agencies: Equifax, TransUnion and Experian. Currently only six U.S. states offer their residents this form of consumer protection. Federal law requires that a consumer may obtain a free copy of their credit report only if they have been denied a loan or credit based upon information contained in their credit reports.

Other highlights of The Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act of 2003 include:

  • special notifications whenever excessive inquiries (credit checks by potential lenders and creditors) are lowering your credit scores significantly;

  • notification by creditors whenever they are sending derogatory account information to any of the national credit reporting agencies;

  • blocking negative credit information caused by an identity thief from reappearing on credit reports;

  • mandating creditors to establish guidelines to prevent them from issuing credit deemed likely to be fraudulent;

  • the disclosure of credit scores used in connection with loan application decisions and an explanation of the key factors that were used to determine that score;

  • requiring the disclosure of the name, address, and telephone number of businesses that supply information to credit bureaus.

At first glance this bill appears to offer valuable credit protections for consumers. However, there are others who feel this legislation either doesn’t do enough or even reduces consumer rights. The proposed federal law could replace tougher laws already in place in some states and that has consumer advocates concerned.

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