Credit reporting agencies sue Maine over two new consumer protection laws

by Caitlin Andrews - BDN

AUGUSTA, Maine (BDN) -- An association representing three of the nation’s largest credit reporting agencies sued the state of Maine in federal court last week over two new consumer protection laws that affect credit ratings and deal with medical debt and economic abuse.

The Consumer Data Industry Association, whose membership includes credit reporting agencies Experian, Equifax and TransUnion, said in a complaint filed Sept. 26 in U.S. District Court that two laws that went into effect a week earlier violate the Fair Credit Reporting Act and will “undermine the accuracy, integrity and reliability” of consumer report information.

One of the laws prevents reporting agencies from reporting medical debt on a consumer report until the debt is 180 days old and instructs agencies to treat medical debt the same as a credit transaction if the consumer is paying the debt off regularly.

The other instructs reporting agencies to investigate if a person claims their debt is the result of economic abuse. This can include instances where access to money or bank accounts is obstructed, resources like food or shelter are withheld or an abuser creates fraudulent debt in a victim’s name, according to the law’s text. If abuse is found, the agencies have to remove any references to debt generated as a result of the abuse from the victim’s credit report.

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