WASHINGTON (3/10/15)--The nation's three largest credit reporting agencies--Equifax, Experian and TransUnion--Monday announced a National Consumer Assistance Plan that would overhaul how they treat errors and list unpaid medical bills in consumers' credit reports. The plan stems from a pact with the New York Attorney General's office.
The changes, which would simplify and make more transparent the error corrections process, would be the "broadest industry overhaul in more than a decade," said The Wall Street Journal (March 9). Changes would begin in six to 39 months.
Under the plan, consumers visiting the www.annualcreditreport.com site to obtain an annual free credit report will see expanded educational material. If they dispute the report's information, they will not have to wait a year for another report and will be provided information to resolve the dispute. Victims of mix-ups and fraud or identity theft will see an enhanced dispute resolution process.
Medical debts, which account for 52% of all debt on credit reports, won't be reported until after a 180-day waiting period to ensure insurance payments are applied. The agencies will remove previously reported medical collections that are paid by insurance.
Lenders, credit-card issuers and collection agencies will see consistent standards for reporting credit data. They will be prohibited from reporting authorized users without a date of birth. Reporting of debts such as tickets or fines that do not arise from an agreement to pay will be eliminated.
The Consumer Data Industry Association's announcement comes as many consumers face identity theft and fraud and file mix-ups. The credit agencies collaborated in an unprecedented manner to develop the plan.
New York investigated the agencies' process after consumers complained about the difficulties in correcting errors, said the Journal.