Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Make flawed credit report an easy fix

Nearly 200 people complained to the Federal Trade Commission because a credit bureau claimed they were dead on their credit report, a 2012 study by the Columbus Dispatch recently found. Correcting a credit report should be easy: Make a phone call, submit a document and all clear. But a bureaucratic runaround is more typical. If Congress won't act, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Federal Trade Commission should give consumers new legal rights when arguing over factual errors in credit reports.

An individual's credit score is determined by some mysterious formula that takes consumers' financial data as reported by lenders and crunches it to, viola, determine one's creditworthiness. These numbers have a huge impact on people's ability to conduct the business of daily life. Credit scores often dictate mortgage interest terms, access to credit cards and whether someone can borrow money to start a business. Employers will look up credit scores of potential employees. Landlords will do so on potential renters. This is the reason that the three largest credit bureaus have so much power.

With billions of pieces of information flowing into millions of credit files every month, errors are bound to occur. This year, the FTC reported that nearly 20 percent of consumers had a mistake in at least one of their credit reports. The investigation by the Columbus Dispatch found that 1,500 of 30,000 complaints to the FTC involved a credit report that mixed in someone else's information. For almost a third of those, the credit bureaus refused to correct the mistakes.

Consumers are left without the legal tools to force corrections. Federal law says that credit bureaus must conduct "reasonable investigations" when disputes arise. That vague language has allowed the companies to do very little to get at the truth. Credit bureaus have a financial incentive to take a lender's word at face value since they rely heavily on lenders to submit information on consumers and buy their products. Meanwhile, consumers have no power to prevent their financial information from being reported to the credit bureaus.

Congress should update the law to give consumers the power to demand accuracy in their credit reports. But given how difficult it is to get anything done in Congress, the job in the short run falls to the consumer protection bureau and the FTC. These government regulators could add teeth to current law by imposing higher standards for putting information into credit files in the first place. If matching Social Security numbers were required there would be less mixing of strangers' data. Also, a stronger definition for what constitutes a reasonable investigation should include steps beyond taking a lender's word for it.

No one should have to spend months or years proving that he is alive to a credit bureau so he can obtain credit. Current laws and rules have not done enough to give consumers power over their own information.

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Editorial: Listen to Marjory Stoneman Douglas students demanding change

Editorial: Listen to Marjory Stoneman Douglas students demanding change

Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are traveling to the state capital today and declaring "never again.íí A prominent Florida Republican fundraiser vows he wonít raise another nickel until his party approves new gun controls. Across F...
Published: 02/19/18

Editorial: No more doubt about Russian meddling in election

The latest indictment by the Justice Department special counsel, Robert Mueller, refutes President Donald Trumpís claims that Russian interference in the 2016 election was a Democratic hoax. The indictment details the lengths Russian conspirators too...
Published: 02/19/18

Another voice: Tips should belong to workers, not their bosses

The Trump administration is under fire for proposing a Labor Department regulation that could result in hotel and restaurant employers dipping into the tips customers leave for their employees, depriving the nationís 14 million hard-working restauran...
Published: 02/18/18
Updated: 02/20/18
Editorial: Trumpís rising deficits and misplaced priorities

Editorial: Trumpís rising deficits and misplaced priorities

Itís not popular in Washington or virtually anywhere else these days to express concern about the rising federal deficit. Congressional Republicans who used to be deficit hawks first voted to cut taxes by $1.5 trillion over the next decade, then rais...
Published: 02/17/18
Editorial: Buckhorn should not appeal verdict in firefighterís case

Editorial: Buckhorn should not appeal verdict in firefighterís case

The city of Tampa should have taken Tanja Vidovic seriously from the start when the Tampa firefighter complained about her treatment in the workplace. Now that a jury and judge have spoken, itís time for City Hall to cut its losses, learn from its mi...
Published: 02/15/18
Updated: 02/16/18
Editorial: CareerSource troubles mount as public trust drops

Editorial: CareerSource troubles mount as public trust drops

The dark cloud enveloping Tampa Bayís job placement centers keeps growing. There are accusations of forged documents, evidence of nepotism and concerns about grossly inflated performance numbers that could be tied to receiving more public money and b...
Published: 02/15/18
Updated: 02/16/18
Editorials: Prayers and platitudes after shootings arenít enough

Editorials: Prayers and platitudes after shootings arenít enough

Even before the victims of another mass shooting at another public school were identified, Gov. Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, state legislators and members of Congress rushed to South Florida or to social media to offer their thoughts and p...
Published: 02/15/18
Editorial: DCF review should get to the bottom of Hillsborough foster care issues

Editorial: DCF review should get to the bottom of Hillsborough foster care issues

The Florida Department of Children and Families is right to call for a timely and "comprehensive" review of Hillsborough Countyís foster care system. Though the probe is a reaction to a recent case involving a child who was left unattended, the revie...
Published: 02/14/18

A Washington Post editorial: Modernize 911 calling before it becomes an emergency

This Friday marks the 50th anniversary of the first 911 emergency call placed in the United States. Since then, uncounted lives have been saved and people helped. It has been a great accomplishment of government.But even as an estimated 240 million 9...
Published: 02/13/18
Updated: 02/14/18
Editorial: Scott, Cabinet cannot be trusted on felonsí voting rights

Editorial: Scott, Cabinet cannot be trusted on felonsí voting rights

Gov. Rick Scott always has been grudging and imperious about restoring the voting rights of felons, requiring them to wait for years before begging the governor and Cabinet to be recognized again as citizens. That arrogance is on full display in a le...
Published: 02/13/18