Today marks the enactment of legislation I fought for to give Americans free access to their credit scores, helping them to take control of their financial health. The law adds a level of protection for consumers while also giving them access to a crucial tool to make smarter, more informed choices about their finances.
Until now, Americans had to buy the right to see their credit scores, and the scores they bought often differed from the scores used by lenders to gauge their creditworthiness. This unfair practice has kept many Americans in the dark about an important indicator of their financial health. Your credit score can skew the terms of your car loan or even prevent you from being approved for a home mortgage or an apartment rental. With such important financial decisions hanging in the balance, I believe that you ought to be able to see the score that is being used against you.
My legislation was included in the Dodd-Frank financial reform enacted exactly one year ago today, and just last week final rules were issued outlining the plans for its implementation. Effectively, it allows consumers free access to their credit scores if their scores are used to deny them credit or give them less than favorable credit terms, such as a higher interest rate. For example, if a car dealership chooses to deny your loan application based on your credit score, the dealer must disclose the score used to make that determination, along with the factors that negatively impacted your credit score. This allows you to take steps to improve your credit score and also take it into account on future financial decisions.
Fair Isaac and Company (FICO), the developer of the software that generates most of the credit scores used by lenders in the United States, estimates that my amendment will result in more than 500 million credit score disclosures annually. The rule will be enforced by the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which also officially launches today in conjunction with the Federal Trade Commission and relevant banking regulators.
This new law is one step forward in helping to level the playing field in favor of hardworking Coloradans who are struggling everyday in this economy.