Rep. Gerald D. Kleczka, D-Wis., had trouble getting a loan two years ago because of misinformation on a report maintained by a private credit bureau. Last Thursday night, during debate on a bill to strengthen the Fair Credit Reporting Act, he told other House members of his experience. The legislation was withdrawn because of disagreement over a provision that undercut states' rights to enact even tougher laws restricting credit bureaus. Here is an edited version of Rep. Kleczka's remarks:
I'd like to relate to the House a personal experience I had with a credit reporting agency. It occurred a couple of years ago when I wanted some reseeding done on my lawn and I contacted three firms to come forward and give me an estimate.
I chose one of the firms, signed a contract, and the work was accomplished. However, workers for one of the unsuccessful bidders came out to my home a week later.
The Grass Was Greener
Even though they saw the lawn was reseeded, they came out to the property with their equipment and redid it.
I did have nice green grass and a green lawn the next year - much too much seed, I might add - but nevertheless, I never contracted for the work.
When I was called by the company to pay the bill, I said that I had not signed the contract and had not wanted the work done by his firm.
Well, they went ahead and found their favorite consumer reporting company and indicated that this gentleman from Wisconsin is a deadbeat and that the information should be put in his life.
I only found out about it because I applied for credit and was refused because of that incident.
So I contacted the consumer credit reporting company and asked for a copy of my file, which I had to pay $25 for. Then I saw the error in the record regarding this lawn service company. So I sent the credit company a copy of the unsigned contract and a detailed letter as to what had transpired.
Lawyer Called In
That was not enough. I - as a consumer, as the person named in that file - did not have any control over the record of the company, even though it was my record.
I finally had to go and seek the services of an attorney. It took more than six months, but we finally cleared it up.
Some problems I have had personally will be corrected by this bill. However, one of the major flaws in the committee bill, one of the amendments that was narrowly adopted in the committee was this amendment called "preemption."
Rarely does this Congress trample on states' rights to the extent that we do in this legislation.