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CU backs bills providing free credit scores

The bills introduced in Congress will require credit scores to be included in your free, annual credit reports

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Consumers Union Backs Bills to Provide Credit Scores with Your Free, Annual Credit Reports
Consumers Union launches campaign in support of the Free Access to Credit Scores Act introduced today in Congress
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy division of Consumer Reports, strongly endorsed bills introduced in Congress today to require credit scores to be included in your free, annual credit reports. These scores would be the same ones used by lenders and other companies to make financial decisions about you.

Pamela Banks, senior policy counsel for Consumers Union, said, “Knowing your credit score is essential to managing your finances. Your scores have a huge impact on your life, but you typically have to pay for them, and the scores you buy may not even be the ones your lenders use. This bill would help consumers get the credit scores they need, and it would take some of the mystery out of the credit reporting industry.”

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont introduced the bill, called the Free Access to Credit Scores Act, today in the Senate, while U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen of Tennessee introduced the bill in the House.

Consumers Union has launched a campaign in support of the legislation. Since January, the nonprofit organization has reached out to consumers via email and social media, urging them to ask Congress to back a bill that would provide reliable scores with their annual free reports. More than 60,000 consumers have already sent messages to their lawmakers in support of this reform effort.

Consumers Union has long advocated for including credit scores in the free reports available at AnnualCreditReport.com. While federal law guarantees you a free report every 12 months from each of the three major credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — the reports do not include your credit scores. The three-digit scores, usually ranging from 300-900, may be used by lenders, bankers, insurers, landlords, and others to determine your creditworthiness and the rates you pay for services. Consumers typically have to pay for credit scores or sign up for trial offers that may have hidden costs.

Of special concern to Consumers Union is the difference between the credit scores sold to consumers and the scores actually used by creditors and other businesses. When buying credit scores, about one out of five consumers are likely to receive a meaningfully different score than the one used by a lender, according to a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau study published in September 2012.

For a fact sheet about the bill prepared by the sponsors of the legislation, click here. For the full text of the bill, click here.

Consumers Union’s petition in support of the legislation is available online at defendyourdollars.org.

Consumers Union is the public policy and advocacy division of Consumer Reports. Consumers Union works for financial reform, food and product safety, health reform, and other consumer issues in Washington, D.C., the states, and in the marketplace. Consumer Reports is the world’s largest independent product-testing organization. Using its more than 50 labs, auto test center, and survey research center, the nonprofit organization rates thousands of products and services annually. Founded in 1936, Consumer Reports has over 8 million subscribers to its magazine, website, and other publications.

Contact: David Butler, 202-462-6262