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The Bottom Line of Fair Credit Reports

July 07, 1991

Taking figures offered in the article "Better Consumer Guards in Credit Reports Urged" (June 7), the credit reporting firms pour out 450 million credit reports annually, against a complaint rate of 9,000 to the Federal Trade Commission. That gives us a ratio of 0.002%.

To suggest that this justifies a free credit report every year to every person whose record is on file ignores a matter of staggering costs. The cost-benefit ratio is unreasonable.

That is why the Fair Credit Reporting Act provides for a free credit report to an applicant when turned down but permits a charge to be made to discourage idle curiosity when no application is pending.

If there is an error in the information, the credit reporting bureau wants to correct it. Neither the credit granter nor the reporting service profits from an unjustified turn-down. If there is still a matter that requires explanation, the applicant may have a 100-word statement included in the bureau file to accompany every subsequent inquiry. There are sufficient safeguards already under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

Adding yet another layer of requirements would also add to the costs of credit, which credit granters would have no alternative but to pass along to all its customers. Such costs fall heaviest on those least able to pay for them.

NORMAN WILLIAMSON JR.

Claremont

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