The federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) now offers groundbreaking federal assistance for credit report complaints.
The landmark move, instituted Oct. 22, offers the first-ever, individual-level, consumer credit report complaint assistance from the federal government.
A repository of credit report complaints will help the federal consumer watchdog better regulate the credit reporting industry, which the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act authorizes CFPB to oversee, along with other consumer financial industries.
CFPB also accepts complaints about bank accounts, credit cards and mortgage, vehicle, student and other consumer loans.
Your credit report
Your credit report can make or break your mortgage application and other credit requests and determine how much you pay for credit. Your credit report is a track record of your credit history. Creditors use your credit repot, along with other information, to evaluate your risk as a borrower.
Your report reveals your applications for credit, how much credit you have and use, and how you’ve managed your credit use – the good, the bad and the ugly. It also contains your address, employment information, Social Security Number, birth date and other personal information that identifies you.
Information in your credit report also is used to generate your credit score, a number widely considered by mortgage lenders and other creditors when you apply for credit. Others consider your credit score and what’s on your credit report when you apply for insurance, a rental home, and some jobs, especially financial jobs and those that require a security clearance.
Unresolved errors on your credit report can be financially catastrophic for you, shutting you out of credit markets, significantly increasing the cost of housing, even jeopardizing your employment prospects.
“Credit reporting companies exert great influence over the lives of consumers. Consumers need an avenue of recourse when they feel they have been wronged,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray.
CFPB’s credit report complaint center opening is designed to compliment other recent regulatory efforts including regulatory supervision of the industry and a study comparing credit scores sold to creditors with those sold to consumers.
Not just the ‘Big Three’
CFPB’s regulatory authority goes beyond Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, the “Big Three” major credit reporting companies, which maintain credit files on 200 million Americans and sell comprehensive consumer reports. CFPB also oversees approximately three dozen smaller companies which, along with the Big Three, account for 94 percent of the market and included consumer report resellers that repackage information purchased from the larger companies and specialty consumer reporting companies that collect specific types of information on, say, insurance and medical policies, payday loans and checking accounts, among others.
Federal law has long mandated that credit reporting companies quickly and directly respond to consumer complaints. The CFPB says you can protect those rights by first complaining to the credit reporting company before filing with CFPB. If you aren’t satisfied with the company’s response, then it’s time to seek help from the CFPB.
CFPB will follow up on complaints relating to:
- Incorrect information on a credit report
- A consumer reporting agency’s investigation
- Improper use of a credit report
- Being unable to get a copy of a credit score or file
- Problems with credit monitoring or identify protection services
The advisory also details your credit report rights, how to deal with errors and disputes, no-cost credit monitoring and more.