Equifax, Experian and TransUnion today launched a new website, http://NationalConsumerAssistancePlan.com, to inform and update consumers about implementation of the National Consumer Assistance Plan, an initiative launched by the three companies in March, 2015 to enhance their ability to make credit reports more accurate and make it easier for consumers to correct any errors on their credit reports.
“Providing both consumers and businesses with accurate, transparent credit reports is our first priority,” said Stuart Pratt, President and CEO of the Consumer Data Industry Association, the trade association representing the consumer data industry, including the three national credit reporting agencies. “The nationwide consumer credit reporting companies are making important changes to their procedures that will improve their ability to collect accurate information, and we want to make sure consumers know about the new options available to them.”
The National Consumer Assistance Plan is being implemented over three years, and the new website will serve as a vehicle for updating consumers about changes to their ability to interact with the nationwide consumer credit reporting companies.
Changes included in the National Consumer Assistance Plan include:
- Consumer experience:
- Consumers visiting www.annualcreditreport.com, the website that allows consumers to obtain a free credit report once a year will see expanded educational material.
- Consumers who obtain their free annual credit report and dispute information resulting in modification of the disputed item will be able to obtain another free annual report without waiting a year.
- Consumers who dispute items on their credit reports will receive additional information from the credit reporting agencies along with the results of their dispute, including a description of what they can do if they are not satisfied with the outcome of their dispute.
- The credit reporting agencies (CRAs) are focusing on an enhanced dispute resolution process for victims of identity theft and fraud, as well as those who may have credit information belonging to another consumer on their file, commonly called a “mixed file.”
- Data accuracy and quality:
- Medical debts won’t be reported until after a 180-day “waiting period” to allow insurance payments to be applied. The CRAs will also remove from credit reports previously reported medical collections that have been or are being paid by insurance.
- Consistent standards will be reinforced by the credit bureaus to lenders and others that submit data for inclusion in a credit report (data furnishers).
- Data furnishers will be prohibited from reporting authorized users without a date of birth and the CRAs will reject data that does not comply with this requirement.
- The CRAs will eliminate the reporting of debts that did not arise from a contract or agreement by the consumer to pay, such as traffic tickets or fines.
- A multi-company working group of the nationwide consumer credit reporting companies has been formed to regularly review and help ensure consistency and uniformity in the data submitted by data furnishers for inclusion in a consumer’s credit report.
The National Consumer Assistance Plan builds on other steps the credit bureaus have made in recent years to improve consumer's ability to resolve issues related to credit reports. In 2013, the companies launched a process under which consumers can upload documents digitally to dispute how their lenders have reported their accounts to the credit bureaus.
The plan was launched after cooperative discussions and an agreement with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and a group of other State Attorneys General.