The case of the missing account

An Advice Team writer recently asked: "Is a creditor required to report your payment history to the bureaus?"

This is a question I have avoided answering throughout the years because I've been unclear about the answer. I finally took the time to do some digging only to come up a firm ‘maybe.’ Here is what I learned:

  • Most creditors report to credit bureaus, but not all of them do.
  • Those that do report do not have to report to all three credit bureaus.
  • Some creditors only report to the credit bureau to which they also subscribe.
  • How often creditors report to the bureaus varies widely.

But back to the original question. From what I understand, creditors have some flexibility, but don’t necessarily get to pick and choose when they report. According to one of my trusted credit bureaus contacts, once a creditor reports on an account, it is their responsibility to continue reporting. However, if they have never reported the account at all they do not have to start reporting payments. I believe this is outlined in the agreement between the creditor and the bureau and is not necessarily part of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). As far as I can tell, the FCRA (§605) deals more with what should not be on your report than what should be on your report.

If you have any information to add about this somewhat confusing issue, please share it though the comments section.

Kim McGrigg is the former Manager of Community and Media Relations for MMI.