WASHINGTON, DC — The U.S. House of Representatives Monday passed Congressman Josh Gottheimer’s (NJ-5) bipartisan bill, H.R. 5332, the Protecting Your Credit Score Act. The bill creates a new one-stop-shop online portal for American consumers to protect and strengthen their credit.
“Today, the House passed my bipartisan bill to give Americans the tools they need to strengthen and protect what they spend a lifetime building: their credit. Credit affects all communities — impacting what Americans pay for a car, whether they can get a mortgage for a house, the rates on a credit card, and how much they can receive for a small business loan. The impact it has is especially strong on communities of color, where the credit reporting system has been historically biased against these communities,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer, a member of the House Financial Services Committee. “We need a modernized system that empowers all consumers, especially those facing new challenges with this pandemic, with transparency and the ability to correct errors to credit reports, and to make sure everyone can have access to credit, so that they can have a home, a car, and enjoy everything that everyone who works hard should have access to.”
What will the bipartisan Protecting Your Credit Score Act do?
The bipartisan legislation will:
- Direct the three credit reporting bureaus to work together to create one online portal to:
- Provide free and unlimited access to credit reports and scores;
- Provide the ability to initiate and resolve disputes between a consumer and a credit bureau;
- Provide the consumer with the ability to place or remove a security freeze on their credit to protect from fraud;
- Provide consumers with access to see who the bureaus have sold their data to in the prior two years
- Raise cybersecurity standards for the three credit bureaus to reduce the risk of future data breaches;
- Direct the GAO to examine the most secure and accurate marker to track a consumer’s credit – whether with a Social Security Number or another federal identifier.
Why do Americans need better tools to protect and build their credit?
Every year, 15.4 million Americans are victims of credit card fraud — or around 42,000 people every day.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has previously found that 1 in 5 consumers have verified errors in their credit reports, and 1 in 20 consumers have errors so serious they would be denied credit or forced to pay higher interest rates. That adds up to 42 million Americans with errors in their credit and another 10 million Americans with errors that can be life-altering.
It takes credit fraud victims three to six months, on average, to resolve the issues.
In 2017, Equifax lost the data of more than 147 million people in their breach and left it up to American consumers to clean up the mess.
During the coronavirus public health crisis and economic downturn, the U.S. is seeing spikes in new types of fraud related to direct relief payments and PPP loans, and Americans need better tools to protect their credit and resolve disputes.
How can this bipartisan bill support the fight for racial equality?
Experts have testified before the House Financial Services Committee regarding how the credit reporting system has been historically biased against communities of color. A study from the Brookings Institution found that U.S. counties with high minority populations are more likely to have lower average credit scores than predominantly white counties.
This bill helps American consumers find errors in their credit reports that could result in higher borrowing rates and lower credit scores, and help them raise their score and strengthen their own financial standing.
Who supports this bipartisan legislation?
This bipartisan bill, also cosponsored by Congressman Tom Reed (NY-23), is the culmination of months of work by Gottheimer and countless conversations with North Jersey small business owners and residents, as well as a great deal of bipartisan collaboration with the House Financial Services Committee from both Chairwoman Waters (CA-43) and Ranking Member McHenry (NC-10).
The legislation is supported by the National Association of Realtors, Americans for Financial Reform, National Consumer Law Center (on behalf of its low-income clients), Consumer Action, Consumer Federation of America, Consumer Reports, National Association of Consumer Advocates, U.S. Public Interest Research Groups (USPIRG), World Privacy Forum, and Greater Bergen Community Action (GCBA).