On Wednesday, April 9, 2014, Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) announced legislation seeking to amend the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) to protect consumers from inaccurate credit reports and credit scores. Their legislation, the Stop Errors in Credit Use and Reporting (SECURE) Act, is aimed at easing the process by which consumers can dispute, access, and correct their credit reports. It also provides for consumer access to a free annual credit score and report, which had been proposed previously by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT).
Additionally, the SECURE Act would:
- Make it easier for consumers to spot errors in their credit reports by requiring that consumers receive a free copy of their credit report if anyone makes an unfavorable decision based on the report.
- Ensure that agencies send consumers’ disputes and supporting documents to the creditor when there is an error on a report, so that they can thoroughly review the consumer’s claim.
- Require the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to develop procedures for credit reporting agencies to follow as a means to improve accuracy.
- Give courts the ability to stop a credit reporting agency from reporting inaccurate information and provide the Federal Trade Commission with new authority to stop sloppy practices.
“Errors in a credit report can make the difference between whether someone can live the American Dream and buy a home or even get a job,” Senator Schatz said in a news conference to announce the legislation. “Whether you have good credit or not is determined by a dark ecosystem of companies that are not accountable to consumers. When the stakes are this high and your credit can affect whether you get a job or house, consumers deserve to be on a level playing field with banks. Our legislation will make credit reports more accurate, help people to correct any mistakes, give federal agencies more tools to enforce the law, and hold reporting agencies and data furnishers accountable for their mistakes.”
The SECURE Act is cosponsored by Senators Sanders, Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and endorsed by the Consumers Union, the National Consumer Law Center (NCLC), the National Association of Consumer Advocates (NACA), Consumer Action, and U.S. Public Interest Research Group.