HR5743: Mortgage Modification’s Get Out of Jail Free Card for Credit Scores

Individuals going through mortgage modification may soon receive a bit of padding during the process.  That is, if U.S. Representative Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) has anything to do with it.  She is proposing a new bill to Congress that would shield a homeowner’s credit score from an adverse rating after the mortgage has been modified. Under HR5743, more commonly known as the Protecting Homeowners’ Credit History Act, on-time modified loans would not be considered delinquent by the mortgage servicer and knowledge of these payments would not be reported by credit bureaus in rating evaluations. Speier said that she has seen drops as much as 100 points on an individual credit rating while lenders are having mortgages renegotiated, a stab that can prevent car, home and life insurance loan approval.  She believes that is unfair. “Homeowners shouldn’t have their credit scores damaged for doing the right thing,” Speier said. How the bill would be interpreted is unclear.  Credit scores in mortgage finance are generally proposed on two different rating systems: FICO, which rates a person’s credit from 300-850, and VantageScore, which uses a range of 501-900; both based in various standards and evaluation criteria.  The Protecting Homeowners’ Credit History Act does not specify which one, or both, it will protect. Not all are on board with this bill.  After all, say some like Joseph Pigg, VP and senior council of the American Bankers Association, where’s the accountability? “To deny information on modifications being used in credit scores only harms the ability of lenders to evaluate the creditworthiness of borrowers in the future, making it harder to determine a borrower’s ability to repay any future loan,” Pigg said to the Chicago Tribune. According to research by FICO released this month, about 25.5% of Americans have credit scores below 599. Write to Christine Ricciardi.

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