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.

  • The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) is an association of nonprofit consumer organizations that was established in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education. Today, nearly 300 of these groups participate in the federation and govern it through their representatives on the organization's Board of Directors.
  • The National Council of Higher Education Resources (NCHER) is the nation’s oldest and largest higher education finance trade association. NCHER’s membership includes state, nonprofit, and for-profit higher education service organizations, including lenders, servicers, guaranty agencies, collection agencies, financial literacy providers, and schools, interested and involved in increasing college access and success. It assists its members in shaping policies governing federal and private student loan and state grant programs on behalf of students, parents, borrowers, and families.

  • Since 2007, the Homeownership Preservation Foundation (HPF) has served as a trusted, neutral source of information for more than eight million homeowners. They are partnered with, and endorsed by, numerous major government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of the Treasury.

  • The mission of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD works to strengthen the housing market in order to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes; utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; and build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination.

  • The Council on Accreditation (COA) is an international, independent, nonprofit, human service accrediting organization. Their mission is to partner with human service organizations worldwide to improve service delivery outcomes by developing, applying, and promoting accreditation standards.

  • The National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®), founded in 1951, is the nation’s largest and longest-serving nonprofit financial counseling organization. The NFCC’s mission is to promote the national agenda for financially responsible behavior, and build capacity for its members to deliver the highest-quality financial education and counseling services.