The system is profitable but imperfect, and for decades critics have attacked it for all sorts of offenses. In 1969, Columbia University legal scholar Alan Westin testified to Congress that the companies violated Americans’ right to privacy and that their inaccuracies damaged lives. His testimony helped pave the way for the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) of 1970, which requires the credit bureaus to delete old information, let consumers see copies of their files, and correct mistakes, among other things.
More recently, the think tank Demos published a report that found that credit checks by employers “illegitimately obstruct access to jobs,” especially for the poor and for people of color.
And then there’s the most common complaint: that it’s hard to get the credit bureaus to remove mistakes from files. This may seem like just an annoyance, but the stakes are high. A bad credit score can mean the difference between renting and buying a home, and some people have spent years writing letters and making phone calls to these companies in a frustrating effort to correct their information.
Luckily for most people, regulators have been making gains. Here’s a list of six recent developments that made the credit-reporting system more accountable.