Credit Reporting

Credit Agencies To Ease Up On Medical Debt Reporting

Credit Agencies To Ease Up On Medical Debt Reporting

NPR - Millions of Americans have medical debt that's hurting their credit. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau estimated it's as many as 43 million people, according to data released in late 2014.

Now, some relief may be on the way.

Changes in the way credit agencies report and evaluate medical debt are in the works. They should reduce some of the painful financial consequences of having a health care problem.

Starting Sept. 15, the three major credit reporting agencies — Experian, Equifax and TransUnion — will set a 180-day waiting period before including medical debt on a consumer's credit report. The six-month period is intended to ensure there's enough time to resolve disputes with insurers and delays in payment.

Credit Reporting Reform Underway

2015 is a big year for the credit reporting industry. Major changes are underway. Earlier this year, Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union announced that they would change the way they handle credit disputes and unpaid medical bills. Credit experts say the announcement marks the biggest reform for the credit reporting industry in more than a decade. Most importantly, these changes will help millions qualify for better interest rates on student, home, and auto loans.

Stop Errors in Credit Use and Reporting (SECURE) Act Introduced by Sherrod Brown

Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, has introduced the Stop Errors in Credit Use and Reporting (SECURE) Act to ensure that all have accurate information on their credit report to ensure they are being treated fairly.

According to the article published by Senator Brown, "[t]he SECURE Act would require credit reporting agencies to improve their processes for collecting

Out-of-Date Entries on Your Credit Report

Negative information such as: delinquencies, bankruptcies, charge-offs, loan defaults, foreclosures, lawsuits and judgments, and tax liens are barred from forever appearing on your credit report. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires credit reporting agencies to remove most negative information from your credit reporting after the credit reporting time limit has expired. Reporting old, out-of-date information is against federal law.

According to the FCRA, credit reporting agencies cannot report negative information for an undetermined amount of time. In fact, negative information can only be reported for a specific amount of time.

Understanding How Credit Information Is Reported

In order to effectively protect your credit history, you must first understand how credit information is reported to the consumer reporting agencies. The consumer reporting agencies (Trans Union, Experian, Equifax and CSC Credit Services) receive credit related information and store that information in sophisticated databases. Those that provide credit information to the agencies are known as "furnishers." Furnishers are typically lenders (such as those that provide revolving credit lines, mortgages, student loans and the like) but may also include others like public information venders that collect and provide public record information (such as judgments and bankruptcies) to the consumer reporting agencies.

One common misconception is that when furnishers report your credit information that information posts directly to your "credit report" which in turn is provided to potential creditors when you apply for new credit.  This misconception is wrong for many reasons all of which relate to how the agencies collect, sort and then disseminate credit information.