The Federal Trade Commission testified before a U.S. Senate Commerce subcommittee on a recent FTC study examining the accuracy of consumer credit reports, as well as the agency’s efforts to improve credit report accuracy through enforcement and education.
On behalf of the agency, Maneesha Mithal, Associate Director, Division of Privacy and Identity Protection, told the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Insurance that errors in credit reports can cause consumers to be denied credit or other benefits or pay a higher price for them. It may also lead credit issuers to make inaccurate decisions that cause them to deny credit to a potentially valuable customer or issue credit to a riskier customer than intended.
“The Commission recognizes the importance of accurate and complete credit reports, both to businesses that use them to make decisions and to the consumers who are affected by those decisions,” the testimony states.
The Commission’s December 2012 study to Congress on credit reporting accuracy focused on identifying potential errors that could have a material effect on a person’s credit standing. Any participant who identified a potentially material error on their report was encouraged to dispute the erroneous information. The study found that 26 percent of consumers reported a potential material error on one or more of their three reports and filed a dispute with at least one credit reporting agency (CRA) and half of these consumers experienced a change in their credit score. For five percent of consumers, the error on their credit report could lead to them paying more for products such as auto loans and insurance.
Vigorous enforcement of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is a high priority for the Commission, the testimony states. In the past decade, the FTC has brought over 30 actions to enforce the FCRA.
In addition to enforcement, the FTC works to educate consumers and businesses about consumer reports, credit scores, and their rights and obligations under the FCRA. Resources for consumers include Disputing Errors on Credit Reports and Your Source for a Truly Free Credit Report? AnnualCreditReport.com. Publications including Credit Reports: What Information Providers Need to Know, are available on the FTC’s Business Center website.
The Commission vote authorizing the testimony was 4-0.
The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s website provides free information on a variety of consumer topics. Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.
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