The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is urging credit card issuers to make cardholders’ credit scores available for free on their monthly statements and online.
Some issuers, including Discover and Barclays, began providing customers with free FICO scores near the end of last year. CFPB director Richard Cordray wants other major credit card companies to follow suit. In addition to credit scores, he is calling for companies to make information available to customers about factors that influence their scores.
Frustration fuels request for access to credit scores
The CFPB also released a report on complaints about the credit reporting industry. The top three consumer complaints the bureau has received are about incorrect information, frustration with the way disputes were handled, and difficulty getting access to credit scores.
Of the approximately 31,000 complaints filed with the CFPB between October 22, 2012 and February 1, 2014, nearly three-quarters were about inaccuracies on credit reports. This included debts incorrectly listed as delinquent, information not belonging to the person named on the report, wrong birth dates, and misreported mortgages and bankruptcy filings.
Eleven percent of complaints were about how companies dealt with the errors when it was reported. People felt complaints were not properly investigated and the documentation they provided was not utilized in investigations of disputes.
Another 9% of consumers complained of not being able to get their credit report or their credit score. People are entitled to one free credit report per year through www.annualcreditreport.com. However, a credit score is not included with the report. And the CFPB says the fewer than one-fifth of Americans actually check their credit report each year.
Credit scores influence many factors
When applying for a mortgage, credit card, auto loan or personal loan, potential lenders use credit scoring to determine eligibility and set interest rates. Landlords and employers also regularly check credit scores of apartment and job seekers.
When consumers report inaccurate information, credit bureaus must inform the supplier of the data in question. The supplier must then investigate and report their findings back to the credit bureau, which will then amend or remove the information if indicated. If this process is not being followed or if consumers have other concerns about their credit files, they can file a complaint with the CFPB.