The National Consumer Assistance Plan (NCAP) is now in effect! As of July 1, 2017, all new and existing public record data used by Experian®, Equifax®, and TransUnion® will be held to the new NCAP standards. While the implementation of these standards will occur over a three year period (with full implementation expected by March 2018), the three major credit bureaus have begun to take steps to improve data accuracy and quality.
What is the National Consumer Assistance Plan (NCAP)?
Announced September of last year, NCAP establishes new standards (or personal identifying information) for a record to appear on a consumer credit report. As we’ve stated in a previous article, new and existing public record data will have to adhere to these two standards:
- The minimum is required of consumer identifying information: name, address, social security number and/or date of birth
- The minimum frequency (at least every 90 days) of courthouse visits to obtain newly filed and updated public records is required
While Experian® and the other bureaus “anticipate no change to bankruptcy public record data”, since bankruptcies are typically filed with the minimum consumer ID information like SSN (which passes standard #1), civil judgment, public record and tax lien data are affected. In fact, the preliminary analysis by Experian® projects that about 96% of civil judgement data might not meet the new standards. For tax lien data, they’re expecting “as much as 50% of this data may not meet the enhanced PII requirements.”
Protect your Property with More than Just Credit
Although the full effect of these changes won’t be apparent until a few months have passed, moving forward you might want to rely on additional methods to vet rental applicants. If the initial estimate of 96% of civil judgement data and ½ of all tax lien data do not in fact meet the new standards (and are thereby removed), it’s likely that a removed civil judgement record (like a monetary eviction) will not be reflected in the credit score. Rather than relying on a low credit score to indicate a civil judgement record, you’ll want to rely on a tenant screening service like ApplyConnect® to provide the eviction data to clue you in.
While you might want to take matters into your own hands and speak to your tenant screening company about what steps they’re taking to safeguard your property with the new standards, NCAP isn’t all that bad. Some positive changes that have come out of the initiative are that, according to their website, “medical debts won’t be reported until after a 180-day waiting period to allow insurance payment to be applied”. As most people don’t necessarily “sign up” for medical debt, giving applicants (and their insurance providers) about a half of year to pay their bills before the debt is applied to their credit score is reasonable. Consumers who obtain their annual free credit report and dispute the information on it will also be able to obtain a second free credit report without having to wait another 12 months. Although you’ll want to look into further protections, NCAP is just one step in the right direction to improving data quality and accuracy, and getting applicants educated on how to improve their credit score.