The nation’s three biggest credit reporting companies—Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax—are changing the way they collect and report the credit scores.
The changes involves the way bureaus handle credit-rating disputes, as well as how they report unpaid medical bills.
The settlement with New York State’s attorney general, comes amid claims that credit errors were costing Americans millions in increased premiums.
The big three credit agencies handle the credit scores of more than 200 million Americans.
Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, all credit error claims are entitled to a “reasonable investigation.”
In practice however, that wasn’t happening. Chi Chi Wu is a staff attorney at the National Consumer Law Center. She says the bureaus will now be required to investigate every error claim independently.
“Not just rely on what the creditor or debt collector says, but actually examine the dispute independently to determine if it’s the creditor that’s right or the consumer that’s right,” says Wu.
The settlement will also implement a mandatory 180-day waiting period for reporting health-care related debt, which is increasingly common.
“A lot of times when someone gets a bill, there’s going to be a dispute, especially given how insure companies are creating more and more complex plans with respect to co-insurance, copays, deductibles, etc.” says University of Maryland Law Professor Frank Pasquale.
According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, roughly half of all credit rating disputes involve unpaid medical bills.
Many of the changes detailed in the settlement will be implemented in over the next six to 39 months.