Hidden at the bottom of presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders’s plan to erase Americans’ medical debt is a proposal that would replace a roughly $10 billion private credit reporting industry — populated by companies like Equifax, Experian and Transunion — with a public, free credit registry.
The plan calls for a creating a “secure public credit registry,” in place of the current for-profit credit reporting agencies, that would use “a public, transparent algorithm to determine creditworthiness that eliminates racial biases in credit scores.”
Under this proposal, Americans would be able to receive credit scores for free, and medical debt would be excluded from credit scores. Sanders’s campaign also calls for ending the use of credit scores for rental housing, employment, and insurance. According to the campaign, the public credit registry would be housed in the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
The idea, which has been promoted by think tanks like Demos, is aimed at increasing regulation and reducing systematic racial discrimination within the current credit score system. Activists believe implementing such a regulation would protect consumers from predatory practices and privacy violations, while also making lending and access to capital more equitable.
The way Equifax is trying to weasel out of its settlement promises for its massive security breach is a good illustration of why this is a good idea.