Changes to Credit Reporting

Credit Reporting Changes – Effective by June 8, 2018

Pursuant to a 2015 settlement between the New York Attorney General and the three credit reporting agencies, important changes are on the way to consumer credit reports.  An additional agreement between the three credit reporting agencies and another 31 state attorneys general ensure the changes will be nationwide. The changes are being made in three phases with the most significant and final phase which must be implemented by June 8, 2018.

The most momentous impact for the largest number of consumers concern medical collections:

  • The credit bureaus – Experian, Trans Union and Equifax must reject any report of a collection that is not at least 180 days old. Thus, giving the insurance company or consumer time to pay the bill before it is reported as a collection account.
  • Medical collections which are paid, or which are being paid through insurance will be removed or suppressed from credit reports.
  • Collection accounts which have not been updated on the report for six months must be removed or not factored into the scores.
  • The credit reporting agencies will remove any collection that did not arise from a contract or agreement to pay by the consumer. This includes, among other items, collections for traffic and parking tickets or library fines.

This will have a substantial impact on a consumer’s credit scores. Any collection account will negatively impact a consumer’s credit score by at least 100 points. Not having those collections factored in or having them removed provides opportunities for many consumers that could not previously qualify for home or vehicle loans as well as credit cards. This will also help consumers obtain lower insurance premiums, allow for greater employment opportunities* and possibly even better romantic matches.

Authorized user(AU) accounts are also affected. The credit bureaus will not allow AU accounts to be reported unless the date of birth of the AU is provided by the creditor. So, going forward, anyone adding an AU to their credit cards will need to supply the user’s date of birth before it will be reported on their credit report.

The bureaus must now communicate with each other regarding mixed files. If one of the credit reporting agencies receives a dispute from a consumer that their file is mixed, the credit bureaus must now use specially trained staff to communicate and globally correct the problem.

The credit reporting agencies can no longer reject a consumer’s second dispute of any account because they had a previous dispute of the account in the last three years. This does not apply to disputes made by credit repair organizations (CRO) on the behalf of a consumer. CROs are infamous for entering multiple disputes for consumers on the same accounts monthly.  All but the first dispute made by a CRO will be rejected.

All changes will be implemented on all scoring models and must be in place by June 8, 2018. These changes are long overdue and will have positive impact on thousands of consumer reports.

Observation from Realtor.com August 15, 2018: “…the [credit bureaus] agreed to remove some non-loan related items that were sent to collection firms, such as gym memberships, library fines, and traffic tickets. They also agreed to strike medical-debt collections that have been paid by a patient’s insurance company.”

*Colorado prohibits the use of credit reports in determining employment eligibility with certain exceptions.

UPDATE from the NY Federal Reserve

A Cleanup, Not a Purge
All in all, the changes in credit reporting prompted by the National Consumer Assistance Plan have resulted in an $11 billion reduction in the collections accounts balances being reported on credit reports. A total of 8 million people had collections accounts completely removed from their credit report. However, collections accounts do indeed align with other negative events and the cleanup of collections accounts had the largest impact on the borrowers with the lowest scores. These borrowers will certainly benefit in the long run from the cleanup of their credit reports, since higher scores are associated with better access to credit, to the job market, and even to the rental housing market. But the immediate impact of the removal of collections will be muted if the beneficiary’s credit record continues to be tarnished with other negative information.  Click here for the full report.

Image attribution

Financially Speaking™ James Spray RMLO, CNE, FICO Pro | CO LMO 100008715 | NMLS 257365 | February 19, 2018 | Update September 12, 2018 | Copyright 2018

Notice: The information on this blog is opinion and information. While I have made every effort to link accurate and complete information, I cannot guarantee it is correct. Please seek legal assistance to make certain your legal interpretation and decisions are correct. This information is not legal advice and is for guidance only. You may use this information in whole and not in part providing you give full attribution to James Spray.

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