By John Voket
This month, the FDIC is reminding consumers that the three major consumer credit reporting companies — Experian, Equifax and TransUnion — have new standards to enhance the quality of the credit reports they produce.
The following changes are in response to a 2015 legal settlement requiring action by these companies to reduce errors on credit reports:
– In July 2017, Experian, Equifax and TransUnion began removing tax liens (a legal claim on assets of a delinquent taxpayer) and civil judgment debts (court-ordered payment of damages) from consumer credit reports, if the information is incomplete.
– These three bureaus also agreed to exclude medical debts on consumer credit reports until such debts are at least 180 days past due. As of September 15, 2017, the new 180-day waiting period gives consumers time to resolve medical billing issues.
Elizabeth Ortiz, the FDIC’s deputy director for consumer and community affairs says consumers can also take these simple precautions to build a credit history and preserve good credit scores:
Know the Score. Credit scores are developed by scoring companies, such as FICO (the Fair Isaac Corporation), based on repayment history and other information included in credit reports. The higher a person’s credit scores, the more likely he or she is to qualify for credit, rental housing, insurance and, in certain circumstances, employment.
Review the Report. Review your credit reports at least once a year to look for discrepancies and errors, as well as possible signs of identity theft or fraud.
Flag the Fraud. Warning signs of fraudulent activity include an unfamiliar credit card or loan listed in your name. Ortiz says the sooner a fraudulent account is identified in your credit report, the sooner you may be able to limit financial harm.
Order for Free. The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires all three nationwide credit reporting companies to provide a free copy once every 12 months upon request. To obtain your free credit reports, go to http://www.annualcreditreport.com or call toll-free 1-877-322-8228.