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Help Heal Your Credit Score

In a March 2015 settlement with the state of New York, the three major credit-reporting agencies — Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion — agreed to make changes that could benefit millions of consumers. Although the settlement is with a single state, the same terms should be implemented nationally over the next 6 to 39 months.

Medical Debt

About 43 million Americans have past-due medical debt on their credit reports, often resulting from difficulties with insurance companies or the strain of paying a large lump sum. Credit-reporting firms now have to wait 180 days before adding medical debt to a credit report. In addition, they must remove medical debt from reports when the debt has been paid by an insurance company. Other delinquencies may remain on a report for up to seven years, even after the debt has been paid.

Mistakes and Disputes

Consumers already have the right to receive one free copy of their credit reports annually from each of the three major agencies. Under the new agreement, consumers who dispute their reports will be able to receive a second free copy from each agency within a one-year period. Even more important, the agencies must have trained personnel examine documentation from both the consumer and the lender and resolve a dispute based on the evidence.

You can order a free credit report at annualcreditreport.com or by calling (877) 322-8228. If you find inaccurate information, you may want to contact the agency in writing, provide copies of any corroborating documents, and ask for an investigation.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, March 9, 2015

Freeman Owen, Jr - Host of "Safe Money Talk" on CBS Radio The Big Talker 1580AM

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