A spokesman for Iowa’s Attorney General says getting errors removed from your credit report is going to get easier under an agreement reached with the top three credit reporting agencies.
Spokesman Geoff Greenwood says 31 states are a part of the agreement to improve the accuracy of the reports. “For years we’ve been getting complaints about all of the credit reporting agencies — Experian, Equifax and Trans Union — so for the last couple of years, attorneys general have tried to address this problem,” Greenwood says.
Credit reports assign credit scores based on a variety of factors, including how well you pay your bills, how much money you’ve borrowed. Under this agreement the credit reporting agencies must implement an escalated process for handling complicated disputes, such as those involving identity theft, fraud, or cases where one consumer’s information is mixed with another’s.
“A credit report is really important, in some respects it’s a life story of your finances,” Greenwood says. “And others read those reports when they are thinking about extending you credit for a car, or a house, or maybe even hiring you.”
Greenwood says this agreement also addresses one particular area of concern — the payment of medical bills. “In some cases consumers were still working things our with their insurance company, didn’t get enough time and it ends up being a blemish on their credit report. This institute some changes that we think will reduce those types of reports on people’s credit reports,” Greenwood says.
The credit reporting agencies now cannot place medical debt on a credit report until 180 days after the account is reported to the credit reporting agency to gives consumers time to work out issues with their insurance companies.
Greenwood says you can get a free credit report from each of the three agencies by going to the website www.annualcreditreport.com. Then you can act to clear up any wrong information. “If you see an error, contact the credit reporting agency and let them know about the error,” Greenwood says. “As part of this agreement, they are going to make it easier for consumers.”
The agreement is sending $6 million to the states, with $106,000 coming to Iowa for Iowa’s consumer education and litigation fund. Greenwood says credit reporting agencies will implement the changes in three phases to allow them to update their IT systems and procedures with data furnishers. All changes must be completed by three years and 90 days following the settlement’s effective date.