Home > Credit 101 > Your Biggest Credit Report Complaint May Be Getting Fixed

Comments 51 Comments

Today the three major credit reporting agencies — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — agreed to a settlement with the New York Attorney General’s office to overhaul the national credit reporting process to better serve Americans. The agreement includes changes to the credit report dispute process, how some negative information can appear on credit reports and oversight of the creditors that provide the information included on credit reports.

There’s a lot going on here, and the changes announced today will take time to implement (the agencies have three years to do so). A lot of details remain to be seen, but here’s what we know so far.

What to Expect

Changing the credit report dispute process would address one of the biggest consumer gripes with the credit reporting agencies — that it’s challenging to remove inaccurate, damaging information from credit reports.

Or, as New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in his remarks to the press about the changes, “The credit reporting system in America that we’re addressing today suffers from inaccuracy and, oftentimes, outright injustice.”

The credit reporting agencies have agreed to employ specially trained personnel to review disputes and supporting documentation, in effect giving consumers the ability to challenge what is now an automated dispute process.

It’s perhaps the most noteworthy effort outlined in this agreement with the credit reporting agencies: About 10 million consumers have reported paying more for or not being able to access products like loans or insurance because of credit report inaccuracies, according to a 2013 report from the Federal Trade Commission. That’s about 5% of consumers with credit reports claiming adverse action because of report inaccuracies.

The agreement tackles another huge consumer credit issue: medical debt. It’s similar to credit report inaccuracies in that it can seriously damage a consumer’s credit and often appears on a credit report unexpectedly. Medical debt will no longer be reported until 180 days after it was incurred, allowing consumers more time to resolve the bill with their healthcare providers and insurance companies.

Another thing consumers might like to hear: Small fines may no longer have the ability to wreck your credit. Things like traffic tickets or government fines — “consumer debts that did not arise from a contract or other agreement by the consumer to pay,” according to the Consumer Data Industry Association, which represents the three major credit bureaus — will no longer appear on credit reports.

The Unanswered Questions

This agreement does not signify overnight change. The bureaus have three years to implement the new policies outlined in the agreement — it’s called the National Consumer Assistance Plan, by the way — and it’s important to keep in mind that Equifax, Experian and TransUnion are three separate companies. Changes may roll out at different times, and consumers should look to each bureau for information on how they’re taking action.

From a consumer credit standpoint, it’s unclear when the benefits of these changes will take shape. Though the promise of a better dispute process may be welcome news to anyone who has suffered from data reporting errors, mixed files or identity theft, it might be a while before they can benefit from the coming improvements.

“The timeframe is generally is 6 to 36 months. … A lot of it is front-loaded in 6 to 18 months,” said Norm Magnuson, of the Consumer Data Industry Association. “A lot of it, I think, is still being put together.”

There are a lot of unknowns about when and how these changes will take place, but if they’re carried out as planned, millions of consumers stand to benefit from them. Before and after this agreement takes effect, it’s important to carefully review the information in your credit reports and immediately address any errors you find in them, because as millions of Americans know all too well, those errors can be quite costly. Consumers can check their credit reports for free once a year from each of the three major credit reporting agencies, and can also get a free credit report summary updated monthly on Credit.com.

More on Credit Reports & Credit Scores:

Image: iStock

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

  • Sheila

    A collection agency that I have filed a dispute against because the debt they have reported to the credit bureaus has had no activity on the original debt which went into default in 2006. They are reporting that the opening date is Aug 2011 and are arguing that this date is when the seven years that it can stay on my credit report begins. Isn’t this the epitome of re-aging a debt? Isn’t this illegal?

    • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

      Sheila —
      The date reported should be seven years after the account first was reported late, provided there has been no activity on the account. You can dispute it with the credit bureaus.
      Here’s a post on how to do that: A Step-By-Step Guide to Disputing Credit Report Mistakes

      • june Eward ferry

        I don’t understand how this will help me someone got phones in my name and I have to pay for that its not fair to me I know I have hospital bills and that was due to me getting hurt at work.I think Kmart should pay them. So know I’m messed up for the rest of my life with chronic back and leg and neck and arm problems.

        • apatt

          What these companies do is sell the old 7 year debt to a different collection company and the most recent company changes the opening date of the debt to the date they acquired the debt. This is so wrong and does not give Americans a chance. Please fix this.

          • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

            apatt – Changing the date to report it longer than it can be reported is illegal. At a minimum file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. You may also want to consult a consumer law attorney.

  • TAKISHIA

    I lived at an apsrtment complex for 2 1/2 years.when I moved they charged me for paint and carpet cleaning which they do before releasing to a new tenant. A third party co. Put it on my credit. I haven’t paid it, because I don’t believe I owe it. Now the third party raised the original amount as if charging me a late fee? Can they do this? An how to dispute the original xharges?

    • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

      Takishia —
      Check your lease documents. Requiring that you pay for a cleaning after you move out is not uncommon. Can a third party charge you a late fee? Yes. Here are some Credit.com resources that may help:
      The Ultimate Guide to Debt Collectors
      Can a Debt Collector Double My Debt?

    • whatever

      The charges may be legitimate if the paint and carpet issues went beyond “normal wear and tear”

      • Shari R Kirchoff-Williams

        Not if you fill out a form showing conditions of the paint and carpet before you move in, and fill another one out showing conditions again of paint and carpet with the landlord present, and the Rent Insurance agent present before you move out. Me, I took before and after pictures when I move in and move out to cover my a??.

    • allg32

      Had an apartment complex do the same thing to me. I was only there for 6 months and they said they were going to repaint and carpet. They didn’t do it before I moved in so why would they after I moved out. I went back a couple weeks later to the apartment and knocked on the door to the new tenant and told them who I was and what was going on. They let me in to look and nothing had been done. I took pictures and sent to the apartment owners with a letter telling them I was not going to pay the charges since the work wasn’t done. Never heard from them again and never showed up on my credit.

      • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

        Very interesting. Thanks for sharing

        • Noway Jose’

          “Credit.com Credit Experts” Now here is the rest of what you read that could have happened to “allg32″ above.
          In this situation had he not gone back and taken pictures or the new tenants wouldn’t oblige him entering to take pictures due to the fact they could have thought of him as a potential burglar with hopes of returning at a future point in time to rob them the landlords could have sued him for the damages. Then they could have gotten a
          judgement” in their favor against him and later they could have gone back and obtained an “Execution of Judgement” ordered by the court and garnished his income and bigger money and resources would have prevailed and his life for all intents and purposes would be over. There has to be mechanisms instilled in all aspects of society and business to protect the consumer. There used to be but not so much anymore. The “New Deal” has been weakened so greatly when you turn on TV your not watching a movie; your watching commercials or propaganda programming pushing some agenda or ideology on the unsuspecting.

  • Crook Ofraud

    it should be illegal for any card company to collect 29% like car care one. they are disgusting. the limit should be 10%

    • whatever

      Nobody forced you to accept their credit, did they?

    • thepanttherlady

      Pay your credit card in full every month and it won’t matter what APR they charge.

      • Shari R Kirchoff-Williams

        Pay before the monthly due date, and in full then you will not have to pay any interest every month.

  • GEORGE WILLIAMS ESQ.

    I don’t think its fair on certain “Human Being” Americans who had suffered mercilessly in the hands of all 3 Credit Bureau, where a deep look at most transactions posted in their folder are never unknown to them, transaction mostly such as Catalogue purchases that they never received. And these Ghostly transactions debar them from their financial advancements at the detriments of a sky rocketing interest rate as the last result for them to even buy a cup of water on Credit. Such categories of “Human Being” Americans needs to be SEVERELY COMPENSATED, and all outrageous interest charged them be refunded back as compensations for their financial enslavements, with the same interest rate. All Minority Americans, be them Black, or White, Hispanic, Russian, British, African, Chinese, or any other race not originally born on America, but are now indoctrinated Americans are very much financially enslaved with these nemesis of credit bureau bogus reports. They need to be COMPENSATED.

  • Nick D

    Once your debt is paid, the debt should be completely removed from your report. There are creditors out there that will continue to report a debt (even if it’s paid) for 7 years regardless of your status with them. The fact that this delinquency still shows up (even though you’ve paid) is wrong! Basically, there’s no incentive to pay off your debt if they are going to keep this line item on your report anyways for 7yrs!

    • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

      Nick —
      You are right that under most models, paying off a collections does not improve your score. What it does do is eliminate the chance that you’ll be sued and get a judgment against you. That’s an even bigger negative for your credit, and it could result in wage garnishment.

      • Nick D

        Both are valid points. I’ve never carried a large enough debt to warrant the cost of the collection company to take it to court. Most of my past debt was due to a $200 old phone bill going unnoticed. Then, once it’s in collections…there’s really not incentive to pay it off if it’s on my report for 7yrs regardless. That’s the point I’m trying to make. The point that creditors want people to pay BEFORE they have to send the debt off to collections is moot because this is not a perfect world and people do not always pay their bills on time. If it were…there’d be no reason for this website…or for posters who like to state the obvious.

    • Name

      Creditors want people to pay BEFORE they have to send the debt off to collections. So the threat of having a negative account on your credit report IS the incentive they give for debtors to pay their debt on time!

  • mark moses

    People that were ripped off in the great real estate scam should have their credit reset back to where it was before they had their money scammed from them. It wasn’t enough for these white-collar criminals to steal all of your money so they had to have a hand in destroying your credit. And this has financial implications throughout the next 7-10 years of your life.

    • derrick

      No people should have used their heads instead of buying houses they couldn’t afford with little to no down payment

      • nocreditcardme

        We could afford the house we lived in and we were still hung out to dry by the mortgage companies. I think they were greedy and were in a “We don’t give a darn how we hurt people” business. There are many groups of people, including our legislators, that are in that kind of business. I don’t think it will ever stop as long as there is greed involved. So, stay on top of your finances, check everything, live within or below your means, and hope to heck anybody you do business with doesn’t turn greedy on you!!!

  • Jon Doe

    I have been terrorized with credit report agencies because of several large medical bills for 1 hospital occurrence. Due to an uninsured person creating an accident (wasn’t my fault) where he died in the crash, I have been in debt for the past 12 years for over $200K WITH MEDICAL insurance. Problem: I was over insured with an out of state insurance company and a full cover travel insurance company. The travel insurance company got bankrupt and my medical insurance company says that the travel insurance should have paid, wasn’t it that they are bankrupt…
    Even so court filed otherwise we are still fighting to get this straighten out. Court costs so far $42K It’s about time that medical bills are not calculated for. My children are hurt with college money which I cant provide because of this idiot way of counting your credit rating.
    THANK YOU CREDIT REPORT AGENCIES FOR DESTROYING 4 PEOPLES LIFE’s!

    • Noway Jose’

      “Jon Doe” This is about what I was saying in an earlier post as well so read on bro it is time to stop this crazy way of destroying American families…!

      “whatever” That would be so great if it were true when you stated…”No one forced you to accept their credit, did they?” Well for a country and its people so dependent on credit and its acquisition it is an absolute imperative commodity to be able to acquire and the more the better.While your correct no one forced anyone to accept their credit not doing so means you loose out on many benefits of a great credit score eg; paying hundreds and often thousands of dollars less in interest for a commodity you needed or wanted and this can drag one down for longer and longer periods of time to pay for as well! This can translate to a person buying a new car at one price then after paying double the finance costs to obtain as any other person would have purchased the same car for half as much then after you paid double stretched out a few extra years then a new line of vehicles come out and better but your still stuck paying what amounts to penalties and it could have been because someone was teed off at you as has been the case in past years. Doubt it? Piss some cronies or government officials off well enough and watch just how they can keep you subservient to them and theirs and in effect destroy your life forever and all while you never knew they could or would but they always had the power to do so but you just never knew!

  • Mrs. C.

    Did you know that the 7 year bad debt rule does not apply if the creditor decides to sell the debt to a new collector? We had a medical bill for $50 – YES only $50. They reported it unpaid, we disputed it, but the credit reporting agency reported it as delinquent and wouldn’t remove it. This horrible collection service reported it for 7 years under one account number.. and just before the 7 years expired, they sold the debt to themselves under a new account number and started reporting it again… I thought bad debts were supposed to fall off the credit report after 7 years? Well when we saw that this $50 bill would follow us forever, we had no choice but to pay the collector again. That should not be allowed.

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      It’s not allowed. The collector is supposed to report the original date of delinquency – the date you first fell behind with the original creditor – and that date governs how long it can be reported. You may want to at least file a complaint against these collectors and the credit reporting agency with the CFPB.

    • Nick D

      I’m sure that after you paid the collector…they probably still held it on your credit report as a “paid” delinquency. So…what really is the point of paying it off if it shows on the credit report anyways. The only way I’d ever pay off a debt like that is with a “pay for delete” agreement with the collector. Some of them will do this…but I’d recommend getting that in writing first.

  • Mrs. C.

    I went to the dentist in an emergency situation and asked them to stop the bleeding until I could see my own dentist in the morning. This dentist insisted on trying to “fix” the problem and started doing work that I did not authorize – I immediately stopped him when I realized what he was doing and got out of the chair and left his office. I never authorized him to do extensive work on me but do you know that this dentist sent me a bill for emergency services and treatments that he had begun – even though I never authorized them? I contacted the dentist and said there was a mistake, but it didn’t matter, this office was determined to collect this ridiculous bill for services. When I refused to pay, they sent it to a collection agency and reported it on my credit. When I contacted the credit bureau and told them there was a mistake, that I never received the services they were billing me for – the credit reporting agency said the debt was valid. There was nothing I could do to remove it from my account and I was ultimately forced to pay it because it would have cost hundreds if not thousands more to sue that dentist for his superfluous charges. The consumer has no voice when the credit bureau makes a determination if a debt is valid or not.. hopefully the new rules and specially trained dispute personnel will change this.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    In many states collectors can try to collect after the statute of limitations but they can’t mislead consumers about the status of the debt. And if they try to sue, the consumer can raise the statute of limitations as a defense. When the statute of limitations expires you can send the collectors a letter asking them not to contact you again.

  • nocreditcardme

    Credit cards are the most over rated part of a person’s credit report. If people choose not the have credit cards, their credit cannot reach the highest rating. Not fair!! Doesn’t the fact that people don’t have credit cards show that they can save and pay their way without depending on credit? Doesn’t that seem a little more responsible than using credit cards to get by?

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      I understand completely what you are saying. The problem, however, is that they can’t create a score without data – which comes from credit transactions. This may be changing as there are efforts to include non-traditional data (such as utility payments) in order to create scores on more consumers.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    Shell – the law is clear on collection accounts which is what most utility bills are. “Renewing” or even paying a debt doesn’t change that. If it’s too old, dispute it and if they refuse to remove it get the CFPB involved.

  • nocreditcardme

    I think you needed to be more involved in the bill payment process. Can’t depend on anyone else to take care of your business!!

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    We have two articles that address your questions: FICO vs. FAKO: What’s Your Real Credit Score? and 3 Reasons Why Your Free Credit Score Looks Wrong. I hope you find them helpful.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    Thanks for sharing your experience. Glad it finally worked out but what a hassle over $67! You may want to file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as well.

    • Sandibeach22

      Thanks Gerri. It was actually the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that helped with them. They are a great organization & there to help if you need it.

  • bluedog2384

    Tire&Wheelchick – Sorry for your divorce troubles! You should never rely on receiving the bill in the mail to know when a payment is due. Each card has a specific date each month when payment is due. To me it sounds like you had one missed payment on each of two cards that was over two years ago. All has been good since then. I wouldn’t sweat it. Over time (and by now) the missed payment has less impact. Removing the late payment hit would most likely only increase your score by a few points anyway. I feel for you because I had a similar situation. I assumed my spouse was paying the mortgage, as he agreed to do, until the sheriff showed up at our door with a foreclosure notice. Never again will I make those assumptions

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    Yes and the newer versions of FICO and VantageScore credit scores will bypass these – but it remains to be seen how soon they will be implemented. Why You Shouldn’t Get Too Excited About the New FICO Score… Yet

  • Caren

    They NOW have these specially-trained EXPERTS that will streamline the process of resolution — so where have these experts been before while folks are trying to resolve disputes??? Sounds fishy to me.

  • Lovehawkins2003

    I just mailed off a certified dispute letter to Experian with the wrong Creditor but the correct acct. number. What should I do?

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      Unless you are in a hurry to get it corrected, you may want to see what happens. They may figure it out.

  • Kevin Kelly O’Brien

    A Pennsylvania municipality’s ambulance took me to the hospital at which time I provided the hospital and the ambulance my medical insurance (which paid the hospital bill in full and would have paid the ambulance bill in full). However, after repeatedly providing the municipality my insurance information for the ambulance charges, it failed to bill my insurance and now has turned the bill over to collections which shows on my credit reports and the municipality has refused to respond to all my correspondence. What action can I take to resolve this. Thanks.

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      It’s very difficult for us to give you a definitive answer. Generally, the consumer is ultimately responsible for a medical bill for treatment received and billing insurance is a convenience but doesn’t release the consumer from responsibility for the bill. But if the provider (ambulance) was a participating provider in the insurance company’s network, then the insurance company may have rules about timely billing. Have you contacted your insurance company for advice?

      • Kevin Kelly O’Brien

        Thanks for reply. About exactly a year ago, I contacted IBX (BCBS in Philly area; as of 07/14 I would no longer have it so that’s why I called then) to see if any billing submitted for ambulance (the ambulance ride was in 08/13) and I was told none had been. I never thought to ask if there were special circumstances as you suggest. Back in late 2013 after I was told the boro never received my insurance info I dropped off a copy of the card; interestingly, the billing person would not sign an extra copy to acknowledge receipt. I was also refused a copy of the ambulance paperwork which was completed the day of the service. I emailed and mailed letters to the mayor and some council members repeatedly over past year plus but nothing in response. Even the collection agency refuses to provide any detail other than a bill.

        • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

          I am at a loss. Do you know if they were a participating provider with IBX at the time? (In network?) I know you don’t have that insurance anymore but can you check? If so, the insurer may be able to help…

  • Paul

    Id like to see the practice stopped where say you have a credit card that charges off your debt, and reports it, then sells to another Debt collector who also reports it then they sell to another debt collector etc-its possible you can have 4 or more negative entries for the same debt and is totally Wrong.

  • Paul

    Something better would be If you could choose your reporting agency , like only TU or Equifax or Experian- that would make it much better for consumers only having to deal with 1 instead of 3 of them -its like pulling teeth

  • malcolm

    People really don’t care about understanding why someone doesn’t pay a debt on time. Perhaps they don’t have enough money for one, which is the case. Especially if its a debt that was unexpected like a medical debt. These are the ones that sneak up on you as your paying everything thing else that really counts in life.

    Main priorities in my world is the home first, rent or mortgage payment, then utilities, water, lights, gas, etc…. Then come the others, car payment, personal loans, credit cards…. these are the ones that should count the most or hurt us the most if not paid. But its those bills we tend to put on the back burner. Medical bills are the biggest as they were unexpected if all the other bills has taken all your money. And that is the case for the lower income bracket and people with fixed incomes.

    And collection agencies really care less. They will tend to just put a collection on your credit report then to work with you. It doesn’t matter to them one bit if they ruin your life and creditworthiness.

Certain credit cards and other financial products mentioned in this and other articles on Credit.com News & Advice may also be offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com will be compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any of these cards or products. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Our Owners

Credit.com is owned by Progrexion Holdings Inc. which is the owner and administrator of a number of business related to credit and credit repair, including CreditRepair.com, and eFolks. In addition, Progrexion also provides services to Lexington Law Firm as a third party provider. Despite being owned by Progrexion, it is not the role of the Credit.com editorial team to advocate the use of the company’s other services. In articles, reporters may mention credit repair as an option, for example, but we’ll also be sure to note the various alternatives to that service. Furthermore, you may see ads for credit repair services on Credit.com, but the editorial team isn’t responsible for the creation or implementation of those ads, anymore than reporters for the New York Times or Washington Post are responsible for the ads on their sites.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team