An amended version of the Virginia commercial credit reporting bill was introduced in the Virginia General Assembly last week.
The previous bill, HB 2198, has since been abandoned after the Virginia Small Business Commission made no recommendation on the bill last December. On January 3, however, Delegate Christopher Head (R), a former co-patron of HB 2198, introduced HB 370 for consideration in the General Assembly’s 2014 legislative session. While HB 2198 was clearly the inspiration for HB 370, the newest version of the legislation takes into account the concerns of NACM and some of the previous bill’s other opponents and abandons some of HB 2198’s most controversial provisions.
As introduced, HB 370 eliminates HB 2198’s identification provisions, which would’ve required commercial credit reporting agencies to identify the source of so-called “negative information” to the subject of a commercial credit report. Instead, HB 370 boils HB 2198 down to two major provisions: one that requires commercial credit reporting agencies to provide the subject company a free copy of their commercial credit report, less any information that’s deemed proprietary to the commercial credit reporting agency, and another that provides the subject of a report with further recourse to challenge an “inaccurate statement of fact” on their credit report after the subject has exhausted the commercial credit reporting agency’s standard means of dispute resolution.
The legislation still could have implications for the commercial credit reporting industry. Under the terms of the second half of HB 370, the representative of a subject company can, within 30 days of exhausting a commercial credit reporting agency’s dispute resolution procedure, file a written summary statement with the reporting agency identifying the disputed information and indicating the nature of the disagreement. Within 30 days of receiving this summary, the reporting agency must either delete the item that is disputed or mark it in the report as being disputed.
Concerns linger about how this provision could potentially weaken the strength and value of commercial credit reports on Virginia businesses, and about the practicality of how commercial credit reporting agencies would go about deleting pieces of information or marking them as disputed in individual company credit reports. NACM will continue to review the legislation and work to ensure that no bill is enacted that could negatively affect the free and open exchange of credit information.
Courtesy Jacob Barron, CICP, staff writer of the National Association of Credit Management (NACM)