The Coalition to Improve Credit Education, a group that will focus on policy issues involving helping consumers understand how they can improve their credit reports and scores, launched this week with the support of more than 20 community development, financial literacy and minority leadership organizations.
The group's key push is to work on changing federal law to make it easier for the nations consumer reporting agencies to provide consumer credit education information and tools. Specifically, the group is urging Congress to fix the Credit Repair Organizations Act (CROA) to allow consumers to more easily get personalized credit education information and services from their credit bureaus without undergoing a three-day waiting period. The group also may focus on policy issues such as alternative data and financial inclusion. The coalition has drawn grassroots support from more than 3,500 individuals who support the overall goals. William Cheeks, president of ABBA Associates, will serve as executive director for the group. Cheeks developed more than 20 state coalitions for the Jump$tart Coalition for Financial Literacy and now serves as Eastern States Regional director for Jump$tart. "Millions of Americans could benefit from better access to credit education through the credit bureaus, but an accidental legislative roadblock stands in their way,” said Cheeks. "Consumers who want personalized credit education information from their credit bureaus currently have to wait three full business days for a response. Happily, there’s an easy, popular, and no-cost fix to this problem, and we look forward to working with Congress to help implement it, so more consumers can get this vital financial advice.” CROA was passed in 1996 to address the problem of fraudulent solicitations and consumer scams around credit repair. While it was never intended to cover credit reporting agencies, the courts have interpreted it in a way that prevents the three nationwide credit bureaus from providing valuable credit education and improvement tools. The coalition is encouraging Congress to refocus CROA on its intended targets by exempting the nationwide, heavily supervised credit bureaus from what they believe to be onerous CROA notification and delay requirements. To help teach policymakers and consumers about the issue, the coalition released a three-minute video explaining its concerns with the current language of the law and urging Congress to take action to fix it. The video can be found here. Policy and Economic Research Council (PERC), a research and advocacy organization on credit education and financial inclusion issues, released a study last year that found only six percent of consumers actually complete the registration process for credit education services after being forced to sit through the mandatory disclosure and wait three business days for the support they need. A founding member of the new coalition, PERC also provided initial funding for the coalition’s efforts. The Coalition to Improve Credit Education's founding members include: Center for Financial Services Innovation; Concerned Black Clergy of Metropolitan Atlanta Inc.; Credit Builders Alliance; Economic Empowerment Initiative Inc.; eCredable Inc.; Florida Prosperity Partnership; HomeFree-USA; Money Matters Financial Program – Rainbow PUSH; Naledge In Action; National Bankers Association; National Baptist Convention of America International Inc.; National Black Caucus of State Legislators; National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators; Operation HOPE; Policy and Economic Research Council (PERC); Single Parent Alliance and Resource Center (SPARC); Society for Financial Education and Professional Development; Southern Christian Leadership Conference; Turner Chapel AME of Marietta, GA; Urban Asset Builders Inc.; U.S. Black Chambers Inc. and U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.