Langevin Votes to Improve Accountability of Credit Reporting Agencies and Strengthen Protections for Consumers

Jan 30, 2020 Issues: Education

WASHINGTON -- Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) voted today in favor of H.R. 3621, the Comprehensive Credit Reporting Enhancement, Disclosure, Innovation, and Transparency (CREDIT) Act, a reform package that brings much-needed accountability to credit reporting agencies and modernizes the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) to better protect consumers. The bill passed the House by a vote of 221-189.

“The credit reporting system that many Rhode Islanders rely on to buy a home, buy a car or even get a job is broken,” said Langevin. “Congress took an important step today to make the system more fair and accurate because too many consumers feel like they are at the whim of credit reporting agencies that are too big to care.”

The package will create a streamlined dispute process to report and correct credit report errors, and it directs agencies to investigate and reinvestigate complaints within reasonable time frames. It also expands access to free credit reporting and disclosure resources and shortens the time period that unfavorable credit information may stay on a report from seven to four years in most cases and from 10 to seven years for bankruptcies. Further, it limits reports of private student loan debt, medical debt, fraudulent mortgage debt, and debts incurred as a result of fraud and identity theft that may hurt credit standing.

A Federal Trade Commission study found that one in five consumers have verified errors in their credit reports, and one in 20 have errors that would lead to denial or higher costs. In 2018, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) received 126,300 consumer complaints related to credit reporting, making it the top complaint received and accounting for more than one-third of all complaints.

“It is astounding how many errors consumers find within the credit reporting system that often serves as a gateway to a wide array of financial opportunities,” continued Langevin. “I am deeply concerned how these issues are preventing hard-working people from gaining access to important services or goods because inaccurate information makes them appear high-risk to lenders.”

The legislation will also enable protections for student borrowers by ensuring affordable and reasonable repayment plans and granting grace periods for service members and students experiencing challenging life circumstances like natural disasters. Lastly, it enhances the CFPB’s authority to monitor the development of credit scoring models.