After yesterday's post on the stimulus package, commenter Mia6998 wanted to know when Congress would "get on to some credit card company regulation? That's the other beast that really needs to be addressed."
That's about right, Mia. About a week ago I wrote about credit rating agency Experian's plan to stop making consumers' FICO scores available to them. Well, USA Today reports that Saturday is the last day you'll be able to see the Experian score, meaning "You now have access to 33% less important information you should have access to."
What really bothers me is the last paragraph in the story, where an Experian spokesman argues that consumers will still be able to see their scores from the agency -- through lenders when they apply for a mortgage. But that's too little, too late. By the time you've applied for a mortgage, a low credit score and whatever negative information led to it has already been on file, potentially for some time. Seeing the score AFTER you've submitted an application won't help.
So, to Mia's point, how about a little regulation here: the Obama administration or Congress should push for a rule banning credit agencies from supplying crucial information to lenders that isn't available to consumers themselves. In an era where everyone in every state is entitled to a free copy of all three of their credit reports once a year, it's almost inconceivable that a credit bureau is allowed to keep your score hidden from you but not your potential creditors.
While we're at it, why are lenders, many of whom are awash in taxpayer bailout money right now, allowed to make lending decisions based on information that's not freely available to taxpayers?
Washington, are you listening?