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Louis Jacobson
By Louis Jacobson January 11, 2022

House holds hearing on proposals to create a public credit reporting agency

As a presidential candidate, Joe Biden proposed to create a new agency within the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to provide credit scores, rather than relying only on the three private agencies that currently track Americans' credit, TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian.

On June 29, the House Financial Services Committee held a hearing on several legislative proposals on credit reporting, including one that would support Biden's promise, though no more concrete action has followed.

In announcing the hearing, the committee argued that "for far too long, our credit reporting system has kept people of color and low-income persons from access to capital to start a small business; access to mortgage loans to become homeowners; and access to credit to meet financial emergencies."

In a statement, the committee's chair, Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., said that the current system disadvantages people who have been the victims of identity theft, predatory lending, or reporting errors in the system. She added that the economic disruptions from the pandemic have worsened the challenges for many Americans in keeping a strong credit score. 

In advance of the hearing, Waters asked her staff to draw up a "discussion draft" of legislation to create a public credit reporting agency within the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to provide credit scores in ways that do not have a discriminatory impact. She said her view is that "creating a consumer-oriented public credit reporting agency would be a major upgrade" over the current credit reporting system. 

The hearing also addressed other proposed bills that would overhaul credit agency regulation but would not create a public agency. 

Much work remains before Biden's promise is fulfilled, but the House hearing shows that it is on Congress' radar. We rate the promise In the Works.

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