Cohen/Sanders Introduce Bill to Give Consumers Free Credit Score

Mar 6, 2013 Issues: 9th District, Memphis, Shelby County, Tennessee

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) today introduced The Fair Access to Credit Scores Act of 2013, which would include a reliable, accurate credit score with the free annual credit reports available to consumers by the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

“A good credit score means better interest rates on mortgages, bank loans and credit cards, smaller deposits for rent or utilities and even lower insurance premiums,” Congressman Cohen said. “Our bill would require that a consumer’s credit score be included with their annual free credit report.”

Sanders said, “A credit score affects consumers’ ability to finance important purchases like homes and cars, but many Americans may not be fully aware of the significance of their credit score or know what they can do to correct serious errors. The bottom line is that everyone applying for a loan should be able to see the same information that banks rely on to judge whether a consumer is creditworthy.”

The Fair Access to Credit Scores Act of 2013 would amend the Fair Credit Reporting Act to require the inclusion of credit scores with the free annual credit reports available to consumers each year.  Unfortunately, many Americans may find monitoring their credit scores to be difficult and expensive because gaining access to reliable and affordable information about their credit scores is not nearly as easy as it should be.

While Fair Isaac (FICO) credit scores from Equifax currently cost individuals $15.95, consumers may be tricked into buying inaccurate credit scores from competing credit agencies and/or lured by the false promise of a “free” credit score into signing up for credit monitoring services costing up to $200 per year.

The Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act passed in the 111th  Congress included a provision that provides consumers who have been turned down for credit, or who received a higher interest rate on a loan or unfavorable terms on a credit card, an automatic free copy of their credit score. This bill would expand upon that provision to provide all consumers with an annual credit score to complement their free annual credit report.

Also, this measure would ensure that the free annual credit score received by consumers is a reliable score actually used by lenders, rather than an “informational score” of unknown reliability. It would give consumers access to all scores generated in the previous year and stored in their credit files – information that lenders have accessed about the consumer’s individual creditworthiness – instead of consumers seeing only those scores that resulted in “adverse actions,” as provided by current law.

The legislation would strengthen prohibitions against deceptive marketing of free or low-cost credit reports and credit scores. It would also standardize credit report disclosure formats for easy comparison when consumers order their free annual credit reports.

Original cosponsors of the legislation in the House are Representatives Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Albio Sires (D-NJ), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), John Conyers (D-MI), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), William Lacy Clay (D-MO) and Frederica Wilson (D-FL).  Original cosponsors of the legislation in the Senate are Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Diane Feinstein (D-CA), Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ).

###