Published: May 2016

Proposed bill would damage credit scores of millions

Consumer Action joined consumer and civil rights advocacy groups in expressing their opposition to The Credit Access and Inclusion Act of 2016 (H.R. 4172). Proponents of the bill argue it helps those with little or no credit build their credit scores by allowing utility and telecom companies to repot their customers’ on-time payments to credit-reporting agencies. However, this proposed legislation will preempt existing state and local privacy protections that prevent companies from sharing a customer’s financial information without their consent. It would also create a negative credit score for “thin file” or “no file” consumers–consumers who are disproportionately from low-income and moderate-income African American communities. For areas like employment and insurance–where a negative credit report or low score could harm job prospects or increase rates–it is often better to have no credit history.

In an attempt to bring “credit invisibles” out of the dark, The Credit Access and Inclusion Act of 2016 (H.R. 4172) allows utility and telecom companies—such as cellphone providers—to report their customers' on-time payments to credit-reporting agencies. However, Consumer Action joins consumer advocates that oppose this type of “full file” credit reporting because it would harm the credit scores of millions of consumers who struggle to pay their monthly utility bills. It also conflicts with several states’ essential state regulatory utility consumer protections, including seasonal or temperature-based protections against disconnection and protections for elders or consumers with a serious illness or disability.

While we have significant concerns about full-file reporting as proposed in H.R. 4172, we do not oppose permitting consumers to voluntarily opt-in to utility credit reporting or efforts to include certain other types of “alternative data,” such as rental data if reported appropriately.

 

Lead Organization

National Consumer Law Center (NCLC)

Other Organizations

National Consumer Law Center (on behalf of it low-income clients) | National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates | Center for Digital Democracy | 
Center for Economic Justice | 
Consumer Action
 | Consumers Union | 
The Greenlining Institute | 
U.S. PIRG | 
The Utility Reform Network - California
 | Indiana Citizens Action Coalition | Massachusetts Low Income Energy Affordability Network | Public Utility Law Project Of New York, Inc. | Ohio Partners for Affordable Energy
 | Pennsylvania Utility Law Project (on behalf of its low-income clients) | Texas Legal Services Center

More Information

For more information, please visit NCLC.

Download PDF

Proposed bill would damage credit scores of millions   (OpposeHR4172Houseletter.pdf)

 
 

Search

Quick Menu

Facebook FTwitter T
 

Consumer Help Desk

Advocacy