Congress Is Looking for Ways to Give Your Credit Score a Boost

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Most Americans believe Congress is about as useful as a fork in a sugar bowl. A new Harris Poll reports 93% of U.S. adults have a negative view of our legislative leaders. But a new proposal issued by Rep. Maxine Waters of California, the ranking Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee, may give some consumers a glimmer of hope.

Waters is seeking to boost the credit score of millions of Americans by changing many of the core considerations of the consumer credit reporting system.

Credit reports are no longer just used exclusively by lenders in making a credit decision," said Waters in a recent statement. "More and more, credit reports are used in a variety of ways, from employment decisions, to determining a consumer’s ability to rent a home, buy a car, or purchase insurance. A person’s credit report is too important in determining access to a wide array of opportunities for these reports to contain inaccurate and incomplete information. This proposal addresses many of the flaws with the existing consumer reporting system, by making common-sense changes that enhance consumers’ rights, create more transparency over the consumer reporting and credit scoring process, and increase the accountability of credit reporting agencies, furnishers, and companies that develop credit scoring models and formulas.”

The proposal aims to remove negative credit histories tied to “predatory mortgage lenders and servicers,” reduce the period of time that most adverse information can remain on a person’s credit report to four years from seven -- and within 45 days remove the negative credit score impact of any fully paid or settled debt.

“That means if you settled your defaulted credit card debt or disposed of your home via a short sale, the item would be removed 45 days after the item was updated to show a zero balance, as if it never existed,” wrote John Ulzheimer of CreditSesame.com, in an article for Business Insider. “This would act as an incentive for some people to game the system by taking out large amounts of debt, defaulting, and then settling the debt knowing their credit reports would be clean in less than seven weeks.”

The revisions to the Fair Credit Reporting Act would also provide holders of private student loans the same opportunities to repair their credit as federal student loan borrowers have, by removing adverse information when borrowers make nine consecutive, on-time payments.

The proposal also seeks to set a limit on the amount charged for credit scores.

The credit reporting industry is mounting considerable opposition to the draft, which has not yet been sent to the floor for formal consideration.

--Written by Hal M. Bundrick for MainStreet

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