How Credit Reporting Agencies’ New Rules Impact You

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Three credit-reporting agencies will play by revised rules that treat medical debt differently and make it easier for consumers to repair their credit.

The country’s three major credit reporting agencies have announced plans to overhaul how they collect information about consumers and how they interact with consumers seeking to correct reporting errors, according to a press release.

This National Consumer Assistance Plan resulted from an agreement that New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman made with the agencies — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

“The nation’s largest reporting agencies have a responsibility to investigate and correct errors on consumers’ credit reports. This agreement will reform the entire industry and provide vital protections for millions of consumers across the country,” Schneiderman said, according to a report by Reuters.

Stuart Pratt, president and CEO of the Consumer Data Industry Association, said the three agencies comply with federal and state laws. The most recent comprehensive study by the Federal Trade Commission showed that credit reports are “materially accurate 98 percent of the time,” but the plan will further improve industry procedures, he says.

For example, medical debts won’t be reported until after a 180-day waiting period. This will allow insurance payments to be applied. In addition, medical collections that have been or are being paid by insurance will be removed from credit reports, the press release states.

The agencies will no longer report debts like tickets or fines that didn’t result from a contract or agreement by the consumers to pay. Also, they will no longer accept reports that don’t include a consumer’s date of birth. Other revised rules will make it easier for consumers to dispute credit-report errors that might hurt their credit ratings.

Here are the free steps you can take to repair your bad credit:

Step 1: Access free copies of your credit reports

Visit for a free copy of your credit report from each of the three credit reporting agencies. Once they’re in hand, thoroughly analyze the information for errors, omissions and fraudulent accounts.

Also, be on the lookout for negative marks that should have dropped off your report because they are more than seven to 10 years old. Most bad items drop off in seven years.

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