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Full Utility Credit Reporting: Risks to Low-Income Consumers

July 12, 2012

National Consumer Law Center

In the past few years, there has been an aggressive effort to promote monthly reporting of all customer utility payments, including late payments, to the “Big Three” nationwide credit reporting agencies (CRAs), Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Currently, the vast majority of electric and natural gas utility companies only report to those three CRAs when a seriously delinquent account has been referred to a collection agency or written off as uncollectible.

Supporters contend that full utility credit reporting will assist thin file or no-file consumers to build credit histories and gain access to credit. At the same time, at least one consultant has promoted full utility credit reporting as a way for utility companies to improve their bottom lines by getting consumers to move utility bills to the “top of the payment pile.”

 

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