Banking and Finance Law Daily Bill would amend FCRA to revamp ‘backwards’ consumer reporting system
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Friday, October 25, 2019

Bill would amend FCRA to revamp ‘backwards’ consumer reporting system

By Katalina M. Bianco, J.D.

The bipartisan legislation is intended to boost consumers’ control over how and when their consumer reports are shared by credit bureaus.

Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md) have introduced the Consumer Credit Control Act (S. 2685), legislation that would amend the Fair Credit Reporting Act to provide consumers with greater control over the sharing of their consumer reports by credit bureaus. According to the legislators, "the existing consumer reporting system is backwards."

Under the current system, credit bureaus collect and analyze personal information on consumers, often without their knowledge, to compile consumer reports that are sold to financial institutions, insurance companies, or employers for credit or employment decisions and for marketing purposes. The lawmakers stressed that after the 2017 Equifax breach put consumers with active credit reports at risk for identity theft, "it was evident that this system had to change."

The Consumer Credit Control Credit Act would require consumer reporting agencies to first obtain a consumer’s affirmative informed consent in order to sell their credit reports and scores. Credit reporting agencies would be required to take steps to prevent unauthorized access to reports and personal information.

Consumer groups support bill. A number of consumer advocate groups jointly wrote to Sens. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Ranking Member, to express support of the legislation. The groups stated the bill "addresses a paradox repeatedly pointed out in the aftermath of the Equifax data breach—that the credit bureaus hold vast amounts of sensitive information about hundreds of millions of American consumers, which they sell for hefty profits, yet we have very little control over how this information is used or disseminated." They noted in the letter that the legislation would be effective in giving consumers greater control over the credit reporting process and preventing identity theft.

Consumer Reports. Consumer Reports also weighed in on the bill with a recommendation for passage. The legislation "creates a default security freeze for all consumers that will prevent identity thieves from opening fraudulent credit accounts and insurance policies using stolen personal information," according to the statement. Currently, consumers can put a security freeze on their credit report for free but must do so at all three major credit bureaus. The bill would streamline and simplify the process by making the freeze the default setting for credit reports.

Companies: Consumer Reports; Equifax

MainStory: TopStory ConsumerCredit CyberPrivacyFeed FairCreditReporting IdentityTheft LegislativeRegulatoryActivity Privacy

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