Attorney General Maura Healey’s Office has entered into a multistate settlement with the three national credit reporting agencies, Equifax Information Services LLC, Experian Information Solutions, Inc., and TransUnion LLC. This settlement will improve the accuracy of data contained in consumers’ credit reports and provide other significant protections.
Key provisions of the settlement agreement include:
Higher standards for entities that supply data to credit reporting agencies:
- The credit reporting agencies must maintain information about problematic data furnishers, including creditors and debt collection agencies, and provide a list of those suppliers to the states upon request.
- The credit reporting agencies and data furnishers must use a better, more detailed system to share data with each other.
Added protections for consumers who dispute credit reporting information:
- The credit reporting agencies must implement an escalated process for handling complicated disputes, such as those involving identity theft, fraud, or mixed files.
- When consumers initiate disputes, the credit reporting agencies must send any supporting documents that the consumers provide to the data furnishers.
- Consumers may obtain one additional free credit report in a 12-month period if they dispute information on their credit report and a change is made as a result of the dispute.
Limits to certain information that can be added to a consumer’s credit report:
- The credit reporting agencies are generally prohibited from adding information about fines and tickets to credit reports.
- The credit reporting agencies cannot place medical debt on a credit report until 180 days after the account is reported to the credit reporting agency, which gives consumers time to work out issues with their insurance companies.
Limits to direct-to-consumer marketing:
- The credit reporting agencies cannot market credit monitoring services to a consumer during a dispute phone call until the dispute portion of the call has ended and must tell the consumer that purchasing a product is not a requirement for initiating a dispute.
Consumers who have questions about the settlement may contact the Office’s Public Inquiry and Assistance Center Hotline at (617) 727-8400.
- You may order one free copy of your credit report from each of the credit reporting agencies per year. This free report is available through the website: www.annualcreditreport.com.
- If you believe that any information contained in your report is inaccurate, gather any supporting documents you may have. This could include a statement from the creditor indicating that your bill was paid on time or cancelled check showing that a disputed payment was made.
- Contact the credit reporting agency in writing, and provide them with copies (NOT originals) of your supporting documents.
- The credit reporting agency must investigate your dispute and inform you of the results of its investigation in writing.
- If you are unable to get the credit reporting agency to correct your credit report after filing a dispute you may file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office.
Additional information about credit reports, credit scores, and how to dispute an entry on your credit report, can be accessed on the below listed websites:
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s FAQ on Credit Reports and Scores: Learn the basics about credit reporting and credits scores, how to obtain your credit report, what to look for in reviewing your credit report, and how to dispute an error on your credit report.
Massachusetts Attorney General’s Consumer Credit Webpages: Learn about how credit reporting works, including how to build a credit history, seek corrections to your credit report, deal with credit problems, and handle debt collectors.
Massachusetts Attorney General’s Guide to Consumer Credit file size 1MB: Learn more about your rights surrounding credit.