The national credit reporting companies (CRCs) – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – recently unveiled a joint initiative to enhance consumer access to credit information, and to streamline correction of inaccuracies in individual credit files.
Announced through the CRCs’ trade organization, the Consumer Data Industry Association (CDIA), the program will expand the amount of educational content provided at AnnualCreditReport.com, the website every U.S. consumer can use to obtain a free credit file from each CRC every twelve months.
Known as the National Consumer Assistance Plan, the program also provides the following consumer-focused policy enhancements:
- If a consumer receives a free report at AnnualCreditReport.com and discovers and successfully disputes an error in that report, they will be entitled to a second report at no charge.
- For medical bills, there will now be a 180-day waiting period between the time an account is created and the time it can be recorded on a credit report as due for collection. This is designed to give consumers and their medical providers time to resolve insurance payments and other billing issues.
- Debts that do not arise from contracts or other consumer agreements to pay, such as traffic tickets or government fines, will no longer be eligible to be recorded on credit reports.
- Consumers who dispute items on credit reports and are dissatisfied with the outcome of an investigation will be given information about further options.
- The CRCs are focusing on an enhanced dispute resolution process for consumers who are proven victims of fraud or identity theft, and those involved in mixed files – a situation that arises when two consumer files are mixed together by mistake.