The nation’s three largest credit-reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union) will soon exclude tax liens and some civil judgments from their reports. The new rules will take effect July 1, 2017 as part of the credit bureaus’ effort to update their reporting and avoid credit errors. The bureaus will remove certain tax liens and civil judgments if reports on those debts fail to include the consumer’s name, address, Social Security number and/or date of birth. Many liens and judgments do not include this information on consumer credit reports because courts require such information to be redacted. In addition to the new reporting requirements, creditors must update the public records every 90 days with the appropriate court.
These changes likely resulted in part through settlements with 30 states attorneys general, including Nevada, which focused on the credit bureaus’ failure to update consumer’s credit profiles properly. Despite these settlements and efforts by private attorneys on behalf of consumers, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau received almost 200,000 complaints over the past 5 years regarding credit-reporting errors and failure to investigate disputes. Consumers throughout the nation hope these new rules will lessen the harmful impact of inaccurate credit reporting related to liens and judgments.
According to a recent study, identity theft hit a record high in the United States in 2016 with over 15.4 million U.S. victims and over $16 billion in losses. The study found that, despite efforts by U.S. businesses and federal watchdog agencies, identity thieves stole nearly $1 billion more in 2016 than in 2015 and affected 2 billion more consumers. There has also been a resurgence of existing card fraud, which has increased by approximately 40%.
With the continued rise in identity theft, it is more important than ever for Nevada consumers to take steps to protect their identity. Make sure to check your national credit reports for fraudulent accounts and/or charges on at least a yearly basis through www.annualcreditreport.com. If you discover fraudulent activity, you must obtain a police report and an FTC Identity Theft Victim's Complaint and Affidavit, which you should submit to the national credit bureaus along with personal identifying documents. You should also request a fraud alert to prevent future illegal access to your credit profiles.
The Nevada Attorney General's office also recommends taking the following precautionary actions to protect your identity: