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CFPB wants free credit scores

By Janna Herron · Bankrate.com
Friday, February 28, 2014
Posted: 11 am ET

The head of the federal consumer watchdog encouraged credit card companies to disclose credit scores to consumers for free.

Richard Cordray, the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or CFPB, said in a speech Thursday that more consumers would understand their creditworthiness better if they were exposed more often to their own credit scores.

One way to do that would be for credit card companies to provide credit scores to their cardholders on monthly statements or online. Two-thirds of Americans carry credit cards, he said.

Discover, Barclaycard and First National Bank of Omaha all are giving consumers a free peek at their FICO credit score on their monthly statements through FICO's open access program. These scores also come with factors that are hurting the consumer's credit score, helping to inform consumers about the financial behaviors that can be detrimental to their creditworthiness.

The open access program from FICO is available to all U.S. issuers, but the three banks are the only ones so far taking advantage of it.

Director Cordray also revealed the top three credit reporting complaints that the CFPB received from October 22, 2012 to the first of this month.

  • Incorrect information on a credit report.
  • Frustration with the credit reporting bureau's investigation into a dispute.
  • Difficulty obtaining a credit report or score.

Cordray reminded consumers that they can file a complaint with the CFPB online if they are unsatisfied with the response from a credit bureau. Consumers are also entitled to free credit reports every 12 months from each major bureau -- Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

Lastly, Cordray said the CFPB issued a bulletin to all companies that provide data to the credit bureaus -- called furnishers -- on how to conduct dispute investigations. The bulletin says furnishers must notify all credit bureaus when they find errors in a report. It also warns against simply deleting disputed items from a consumer's credit file because an investigation may reveal deficiencies in the furnisher's reporting process.

Cordray spoke at the meeting of the Consumer Advisory Board in Washington, D.C.

Do you know what your credit score is? When was the last time you looked at your credit report?

Follow me on Twitter: @JannaHerron.

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