New California Law Leads to Broader Credit Report Access

Millions of Americans may know full well that they are able to order copies of their credit reports at least three times per year completely free of charge. However, a new law in California may make it even easier for them to do so in the near future.

A new bill recently signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown, after being introduced to the state legislature by Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner several months ago, will give Californians more access to their credit reports, according to a report from the Los Angeles Times. Specifically, the law prevents credit reporting agencies from discouraging financial institutions and other businesses from giving consumers copies of their credit reports when adverse action is taken against them. That can include being denied a line of credit for which they've applied, or simply not getting the best possible rates available, as a result of their low credit ratings.

"As consumers, we deserve every right to view our credit histories, especially if a bank, landlord or employer has this information and can use it to deny our credit applications," Skinner told the newspaper.

This law also specifically gives state officials power to enforce its provisions.  Because of this change, Californians have two levels of protection — the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and state agencies.

Skinner said she had the idea to write the legislation after watching an episode of "60 Minutes," in which a Federal Trade Commission study that found some 40 million Americans have unfair markings of some kind on their credit histories, the report said. By granting residents more access to these documents, the hope is that they can help determine when such entries are having a negative effect on their standing overall, and may be able to move to get them more quickly.

Some states allow more access for residents to their credit reports, but these do not apply nationwide. Consequently, it may be wise to at least take full advantage of the current federal law which allows you to order one such document once per year from each of the three major credit bureaus. If in the course of looking over these documents, you find that your credit standing could be hurt by such unfair markings, it might be wise to work with a credit repair law firm. This may allow you to clear up the problems quickly and easily.