Sue is a homeowner and pays her mortgage and other bills on time like a good credit consumer. Sue's on-time mortgage payments are reflected in her credit score profiled by the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union.
Joe, on the other hand, is a renter who wants to buy his first home in the near future. He pays his rent on time every month, as well as his phone and utility bills. Joe is also a good credit consumer, but his on-time payments are not reflected in his credit profiles. Why? Because the major credit reporting agencies are not set up to track this type of payment and, therefore, they are not reflected in Joe's credit score. Chances are good that Joe's credit score will be lower than Sue's because his on-time rent payments go untracked by the credit bureaus.
As a result Joe will be quoted a higher interest rate and higher fees to his lender when he applies for his first home mortgage. Seems a bit unfair, doesn't it? The good news for Joe and other renters like him is that the credit reporting system is about to change.
In a recent Chicago Tribune article, reporter Kenneth R. Harney points to the creation of a new national credit bureau whose "sole mission is to track the payments that nobody else tracks." The new credit reporting agency PRBC (Pay Rent, Build Credit) wants to build credit files on as many as 10 million renters nationwide over the next 5 years.
According to PRBC's founder and chief executive Michael Nathans, the new bureau will earn revenue by selling supplemental credit reports to lenders. CitiMortgage, Inc., one of the nation's major home lenders, is already a subscriber of the new service.
Some other highlights of PRBC's service include:
-- 24/7 access to online files by consumers, free of charge.
-- Consumers must give permission to have their files accessed by lenders.
-- Consumers can input up to 36 months of documented on-time payments.
-- They accept payment histories from phone, credit, and debit cards, so long as the source (merchant) can send a date-stamped electronic receipt of payment.
-- Many consumers who bank online can have their payment information recorded by PRBC once the bureau becomes fully functional.
PRBC can benefit not only renters, but also young and minority borrowers who have little or no credit history with the traditional bureaus. "We think we can help create equal credit opportunities for everybody who deserves a a prime rate loan," Nathans said.
Consumers can register for free with the new bureau online at http://www.payrentbuildcredit.com.
James Dimmitt is editor of "To Your Credit," a FREE weekly money-saving newsletter. He is also author of "Identity Theft -- How To Avoid Becoming the Next Victim!" located at: http://tinyurl.com/bc45. For more details, also visit: http://tinyurl.com/mjqh© 2004 James Dimmitt
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