As consumers, we all want to know we can get access to the credit we deserve. And a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) study released last week affirmed that for the overwhelming majority of us, that's exactly how the credit reporting system works.
Consumers also want to know whether or not their credit reports were likely to contain an error that would increase the price they would pay for a loan. The FTC study answered that question, too. It found that 95% of consumers will get a credit decision based on a credit report that they rightfully deserve.
Consumers also care about getting an error corrected when it appears in their credit report, just as we do. Criticisms of the dispute process and our members' consumer assistance programs ignore the facts. The Political and Economic Research Council found that 95% of consumers who disputed data in their credit reports were satisfied. The FTC report on the dispute process also found that it worked for consumers.
Courts have consistently found that the process abides by the letter and spirit of the law. Unfortunately, some consumers will likely respond to criticism of the credit dispute process by resorting to fraudulent credit repair schemes that mislead consumers about their credit scores in exchange for unnecessary fees.
However, we are still looking to improve on these results. New technology, currently in testing, will go live later this year. It will build on the success of the current dispute process.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau found that additional training was needed by lenders to improve the accuracy of the data they report to the credit bureaus. Our organization, the Consumer Data Industry Association (CDIA), is launching a new online, interactive training program this year augmented by in-person and remote webinar training. Our goal is to partner with the lending community to improve reporting practices.
Finally, we agree with the FTC and the consumer bureau. Consumers should exercise their right to free credit reports by visiting annualcreditreport.com. CDIA is launching a new public service campaign that urges consumers to review their reports.
The fact is, credit reports do serve consumers well. The FTC study is the latest evidence to support that.
Stuart Pratt is president and CEO of the Consumer Data Industry Association.
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