Testimony- Credit Scoring and FCRA: How mistakes affect credit reports

Written testimony presented by Ed Mierzwinski at a hearing of the House Financial Services Committee on the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA): Who’s Keeping Score? Holding Credit Bureaus Accountable and Repairing a Broken System.   (includes a 3 page appendix detailing 50 years of credit reporting blunders). Excerpt on preemption:

Critically, each federal reform was preceded by major accomplishments at the state level. A key part of my message today is that continued state leadership in all areas – from climate change to credit reporting and privacy and digital rights more broadly– is critical to the advancement of this nation’s policies to improve consumer welfare, health and safety and liberty.[…]

The big CRAs (credit bureaus) were early advocates of eliminating the right of states to protect their citizens. If the credit bureaus and banks had succeeded in 1992 in their brazen House effort to reverse the FCRA’s longstanding standard that the FCRA serve as a floor of protection, not a ceiling, and at that time 27 years ago successfully preempted all state laws related to credit reporting, we would not have nationwide free credit reports, we would not have access to our credit scores, we would not have identity theft protections, we would not have data breach notices, and we would not have the free nationwide credit freezes finally enacted in 2018.4 Congress only acts to protect consumers after a disaster (cue 2008 financial collapse) or after several states act first. Industry’s goal is to take state innovators and consumer cops off the credit bureau beat.


Ed Mierzwinski

Senior Director, Federal Consumer Program, PIRG

Ed oversees U.S. PIRG’s federal consumer program, helping to lead national efforts to improve consumer credit reporting laws, identity theft protections, product safety regulations and more. Ed is co-founder and continuing leader of the coalition, Americans For Financial Reform, which fought for the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010, including as its centerpiece the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. He was awarded the Consumer Federation of America's Esther Peterson Consumer Service Award in 2006, Privacy International's Brandeis Award in 2003, and numerous annual "Top Lobbyist" awards from The Hill and other outlets. Ed lives in Virginia, and on weekends he enjoys biking with friends on the many local bicycle trails.

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