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H.R. 5332: Protecting Your Credit Score Act of 2020


But would provisions allowing consumers to challenge their credit score open the door to the removal of negative but accurate information?

Context

There are three nationwide credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. These three for-profit companies calculate your credit score based on your personal finances and payment history. That credit score in turn can affect your ability to rent a house or apartment, buy a car, purchase insurance, or take out a credit card.

But all three companies use different formulas for determining your credit score, have different websites for obtaining your own score, and often charge customers to find out what their score is.

What the bill does

The Protecting Your Credit Score Act would direct the three credit bureaus to create a central online website, which would allow a person to check their credit score for free at any time.

The bill would also require the agencies reveal which other organizations or people they’ve sold your credit score or data to in the past two years — potentially including banks, credit card companies, car dealers, employers, landlords, and insurance companies.

Lastly, it aims to streamline the process for a consumer to challenge perceived inaccuracies in their credit score. That includes allowing courts to award injunctive relief, a move in which they demand a defendant — in this case one of the three credit bureaus — to cease a certain action.

It was introduced on December 6 as bill number H.R. 5332, by Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ5).

What supporters say

Supporters argue the bill helps consumers better understand how their critical credit score is being calculated, and who it’s being sold to.

“There are three companies in the United States that literally hold the keys to deciding Americans’ credit fates, on whether you should get access to credit — what you pay for a car, whether you can get a mortgage for a house, the rates on a credit card, and how much you can receive for a small business loan,” Rep. Gottheimer said in a press release.

“Each of these credit bureaus come up with their own magic number: your credit score,” Rep. Gottheimer continued. “They have their own secret formula, and it’s up to you to track it, beg them to fix inaccuracies when they arise, and deal with data breaches when they occur, far too often.”

“[The bill] sets up a one-stop shop, online portal to check your credit report, for free, at any time,” Rep. Gottheimer explained. “It allows victims to shut off the ability of credit hucksters from using your information to apply for credit under your name.”

What opponents say

Opponents counter that the legislation could open the door for lawsuits that result in the potential removal of damaging but valid financial information.

“We are concerned about the increasing abuse of these protective provisions to remove accurate but negative information,” the American Banking Association’s James C. Ballentine wrote to Congress, “not only by credit repair organizations and those hoping to erase accurate negative information from their report to improve their ability to obtain credit, but also by individuals, including those involved in organized crime, seeking to defraud lenders.”

“We believe [the bill] will enhance the ability of these individuals to flood consumer reporting agencies and furnishers of information with false claims of inaccuracies that must be resolved in a timely fashion or deleted,” Ballentine continued. “Other provisions promote false claims and impose new burdens that will overwhelm consumer reporting agencies or furnishers, leading to the inappropriate deletion of accurate information.”

Odds of passage

The bill has attracted one Republican cosponsor across the aisle: Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY23). The House Financial Services Committee approved it on December 11, by a vote of 31 to 24.

It now awaits a potential vote in the full House. Odds of passage are low in the Republican-controlled Senate.

Last updated Jan 24, 2020. View all GovTrack summaries.

The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on Jun 29, 2020.


Protecting Your Credit Score Act of 2020

This bill revises provisions related to consumer credit reports and credit reporting agencies.

(Sec. 2) Credit reporting agencies are directed to create a central online portal that allows consumers to (1) access free credit reports and credit scores, (2) dispute errors, and (3) place or lift security freezes.

(Sec. 3) Credit reporting agencies must verify specified identifying information when adding credit information to a consumer's file. Credit reporting agencies must also perform periodic audits of credit reports to ensure accuracy.

(Sec. 4) A credit reporting ombudsperson, whose responsibilities include resolving persistent errors by credit reporting agencies, is established at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

Credit reporting agencies must provide a consumer with additional information after an agency's reinvestigation of disputed credit information.

(Sec. 5) A court may award injunctive relief to compel a credit reporting agency to comply with credit report protections.

(Sec. 6) Consumers will receive a free credit score upon request and upon certain adverse credit decisions.

Credit reporting agencies must provide available information to consumers regarding the purpose behind the procurement of a credit report.

(Sec. 7) The bill establishes a public registry for credit reporting agencies.

(Sec. 8) The bill also provides the CFPB with statutory authority for supervising credit reporting agencies.

(Sec. 9) The bill gives the CFPB the authority to establish data security requirements for credit reporting agencies.

(Sec. 10) The CFPB must report on the effectiveness of specified audits in addressing data security risks at credit reporting agencies.

(Sec. 11) The Government Accountability Office must report on the feasibility of credit reporting agencies replacing Social Security numbers as identifiers with another type of federal identification.