In the news this month are several successful efforts to improve credit report accuracy, compensate the victims of credit bureau malfeasance and also to bring some credit repair doctors to heel. Did it take a village? No, it took a combination of strong consumer laws, a strong CFPB, tough state attorneys general working on a bi-partisan basis and, finally, consumer attorneys engaged in private enforcement of the laws as another line of defense. For markets to work fairly, consumers need all these levels of protection.
In addition to demonstrating the importance of layered consumer protection and enforcement mechanisms, the cases also show that it is important to regulate the bureaus and hold them accountable, because despite their arrogant disregard for meeting the accuracy and reinvestigation standards of the law, they serve as gatekeepers to financial and employment opportunity. The Federal Trade Commission has concluded that up to 1 in 4 of all credit reports contain serious mistakes and 5% of all reports contain mistakes that could lead to paying more for or credit or to a denial of credit. Keeping an eye on the credit bureaus is important.