Tester helping Montanans improve their credit
Senator backs bipartisan bill to allow telephone, utility bills to build Montanans’ credit
(U.S. SENATE) – With one in every two Montanans looking to improve their credit, Senator Jon Tester is proposing a simple way to help them strengthen their credit histories and – in turn – boost Montana’s economy.
Tester is co-sponsoring a bipartisan bill that will allow utility and telecommunications companies to inform credit reporting agencies when customers pay their bills on-time so that consumers can build up good credit. Currently, these companies usually only report missed payments and defaults – not positive credit histories such as on-time payments.
By establishing more complete and accurate credit records, Tester says Montanans will develop stronger credit histories and scores, allowing them to access more affordable lines of credit and invest in goods – like homes – that boost Montana’s economy.
“Paying your electric bill or your phone bill on-time shows you are reliable and earned the chance to build better credit,” Tester said. “These folks shouldn’t have to pay extreme interest rates just to make ends meet. This bipartisan bill will help them build up their credit scores with the payments they make each day so they can better support their families and strengthen our economy.”
It is estimated that nearly 60 million Americans are excluded from the mainstream credit market due to their lack of credit history. According to a recent study, 49 percent of Montanans have subprime credit, which is often the result of short credit histories, and are forced to pay higher rates and excessive fees to access lines of credit.
Tester’s bill will allow these “credit invisible” individuals to build their credit histories so they won’t have to obtain credit from higher-cost services, such as pay-day lenders, that can charge annual interest rates of more than 700 percent.
Tester’s bipartisan bill, known as the Credit Access and Inclusion Act, is co-sponsored by Senators Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).