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

Jun 29, 2020 at 6:36 p.m. ET. On Passage of the Bill in the House.

This was a vote to pass H.R. 5332 in the House.

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.

Totals

All Votes D R L
Yea 57%
 
 
 
234
231
 
3
 
0
 
Nay 43%
 
 
 
179
1
 
177
 
1
 
Not Voting
 
 
 
17
0
 
17
 
0
 

Passed. Simple Majority Required. Source: house.gov.

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Democrat - Yea Republican - Yea Democrat - Nay Republican - Nay
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Study Guide

How well do you understand this vote? Use this study guide to find out.

You can find answers to most of the questions below here on the vote page. For a guide to understanding the bill this vote was about, see here.

What was the procedure for this vote?

  1. What was this vote on?
  2. Not all votes are meant to pass legislation. In the Senate some votes are not about legislation at all, since the Senate must vote to confirm presidential nominations to certain federal positions.

    This vote is related to a bill. However, that doesn’t necessarily tell you what it is about. Congress makes many decisions in the process of passing legislation, such as on the procedures for debating the bill, whether to change the bill before voting on passage, and even whether to vote on passage at all.

    You can learn more about the various motions used in Congress at EveryCRSReport.com. If you aren’t sure what the House was voting on, try seeing if it’s on this list.

  3. What is the next step after this vote?
  4. Take a look at where this bill is in the legislative process. What might come next? Keep in mind what this specific vote was on, and the context of the bill. Will there be amendments? Will the other chamber of Congress vote on it, or let it die?

    For this question it may help to briefly examine the bill itself.

What is your analysis of this vote?

  1. What trends do you see in this vote?
  2. Members of Congress side together for many reasons beside being in the same political party, especially so for less prominent legislation or legislation specific to a certain region. What might have determined how the roll call came out in this case? Does it look like Members of Congress voted based on party, geography, or some other reason?

    One tool that will be helpful in answering this question is the cartogram at the top of the page. A cartogram is a stylized map of the United States that shows each district as an identical hexagon. This view allows you to see the how the representatives from each district voted arranged by their geography and colored by their political party. What trends can you see in the cartogram for this vote?

  3. How did your representative vote?
  4. There is one vote here that should be more important to you than all the others. These are the votes cast by your representative, which is meant to represent you and your community. Do you agree with how your representative voted? Why do you think they voted the way they did?

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