AG calls on credit bureau to help repair credit histories of trafficking victims

FILE(AP Photo/John Hanna)
Published: May. 10, 2022 at 3:44 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The Kansas Attorney General has called on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to help keep the wrecked credit history of human trafficking survivors from negatively impacting their lives.

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt says on Tuesday, May 10, he urged the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to implement provisions of the Debt Bondage Repair Act in order to provide a way for victims of human trafficking to repair credit histories that were damaged through no fault of their own.

AG Schmidt said the Debt Bondage Repair Act was signed into law in December 2021 and prohibits credit rating agencies from providing consumer reports that contain negative information about human trafficking survivors from any period during which they were trafficked.

Schmidt said he joined a coalition of 40 other state and territorial attorneys general to write to the CFPB to support the implementation of the changes in federal law into Section 605C of the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

The AG said it is a common tactic of traffickers to strip victims of financial independence or stability in order to keep them trapped. He said even after they escape, survivors are often left with a wrecked credit history that leaves them unable to rent an apartment, buy a car, or find employment.

Schmidt said more than one in four survivors of human trafficking reported a bank account or credit card that was opened in their name was then used or controlled by their trafficker.

“Restoring financial independence is a crucial component of a survivor’s recovery,” the attorneys general wrote. “By regaining control over their finances, survivors reclaim and reassert their personhood in defiance of their traffickers. This takes bravery and time. Without some mechanism to help them, negative consumer reports that resulted from their trafficking become an almost insurmountable obstacle to simple tasks, like opening a bank account, renting an apartment, and applying for a job – all foundational steps as they try to get back on their feet.”

To read a full copy of the letter, click HERE.

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