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How New Changes by Credit-Reporting Firms May Affect You

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In this March 5, 2012, file photo, consumer credit cards are posed in North Andover, Mass. The three largest credit reporting agencies will change the way they handle records in a major revamp long sought by consumer advocates. The changes were announced Monday, March 9, 2015, after talks between Equifax, Experian, TransUnion and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)

In this March 5, 2012, file photo, consumer credit cards are posed in North Andover, Mass. The three largest credit reporting agencies will change the way they handle records in a major revamp long sought by consumer advocates. The changes were announced Monday, March 9, 2015, after talks between Equifax, Experian, TransUnion and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)

MICHELLE CHAPMAN, AP Business Writers
ALEX VEIGA, AP Business Writers

The three big credit reporting agencies are making changes that could help steer some consumers clear of the credit dog house.

Data collected by the agencies Equifax, Experian and TransUnion on hundreds of millions of people are used to create credit scores. Those scores can determine who gets a loan and how much interest is paid on it.

The move stems from months of negotiations between the companies and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, one of several state attorneys general who have placed the credit reporting industry under increased scrutiny.

Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood sued Experian last June, claiming the firm has knowingly included error-riddled data in consumer credit files. In Ohio, Attorney General Mike DeWine is leading more than 30 states in an investigation into the credit firms. That suggests more changes by the industry could be coming.

So how will these latest changes affect you?

Q: WHAT’S CHANGING HERE?

A: The credit bureaus have agreed to make several changes. Two of them have the potential to affect consumers the most: changes to how people go about disputing errors in their credit files and in the type of credit data that will appear in their files.

Q: WILL IT BE EASIER TO DISPUTE ERRORS IN MY CREDIT REPORT?

A: In theory. Let’s say you’ve made a timely payment on your credit card but it mistakenly shows up in your credit file as a late payment, potentially weighing down your credit score. Right now, consumers who want to fix that error can file a dispute with the credit reporting agencies, but it falls on the consumer to get the mistake fixed with their credit card company. In addition, the credit agencies basically defer to the creditor.

To address this, the firms have agreed to hire employees tasked with reviewing consumer credit disputes independently and not merely rubber-stamping what credit card issuers and lenders say.

Q: WHAT ARE THE CHANGES TO MEDICAL DEBT?

A: In a bid to increase accuracy, medical debts won’t be reported until after a 180-day waiting period to allow time for insurance payments to be applied. The agencies agreed to remove from credit reports previously reported medical collections that have been or are being paid by insurance companies.

Medical debts often arise from insurance coverage delays or disputes. Over half of all collection items on credit reports are medical debts and those debts may not accurately reflect consumers’ creditworthiness, according to a statement from Schneiderman.

Q: WHAT ABOUT PARKING TICKETS?

A: The credit agencies have agreed that parking tickets, library late fees and similar fines won’t appear on consumers’ credit reports, sort of. The idea is to exclude debts that don’t arise from an agreement by the consumer to pay back money, as in a loan or credit card. Still, if any of those debts gets sold to a collection agency, it’s possible the unpaid debt record could end up on your credit report anyway.

Q: WHO WILL MONITOR THE CHANGES?

A: A working group will be formed under the agreement to regularly review consistency and to ensure that collected data is applied to consumers uniformly.

Q: WHEN WILL THE CHANGES TAKE PLACE?

A: The changes will start to be implemented over the next several months. Discussions with other attorneys general are ongoing and there remains the possibility for more agreements ahead.

Q: AM I ELIGIBLE FOR MORE THAN ONE FREE CREDIT REPORT A YEAR?

A: Yes. Right now, consumers are entitled to get one free credit report a year from each credit reporting agency. The Attorney General’s agreement requires that the firms provide a second free report to consumers who experience a change in their report after they dispute something in their file. This will let consumers verify that the credit agencies corrected the error. To get a free report, visit AnnualCreditReport.com.

____

Chapman reported from New York. Veiga reported from Los Angeles.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Bay Area

West Oakland Black Woman Owned Food Collective, “The Black Culinary Collective (BCC)”

“We are doing our part to change the narrative of excellence being categorized as an exception for black makers.

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   A group of Black women who own food businesses are rising from the devastation of the pandemic by sharing a commercial kitchen in West Oakland.

     The Black Culinary Collective (BCC) is led by Chef Reign Free, owner of Red Door Catering, which opened in 2006. 

    Red Door Catering has a 5,000-square-foot kitchen space.  During the pandemic Free’s catering business fell and her business was damaged during the protests.  

     Free also knew other Black chefs who didn’t have the money to rent commercial kitchen space during the pandemic.  

      And so, she applied to and received $50,000 from the Oakland Black Business Fund, which, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, is “an organization that aims to address Black entrepreneurs’ historical lack of access to capital, to help members join the collective rent-free.”

     The collective currently has four members (Teas With Meaning, Baby Bean Pie, Pound Business, and Final Sauce) and is looking for six more.  The members will share the kitchen, sell their goods to the public on-site, and collaborate on projects.  Members will also receive consultations, mentoring and advice on their food businesses.

     BCC hopes to open in August and will be located at 2925 Adeline St. Free continues to raise funds to help collective members have up to a year in the collective rent-free. 

     “It’s important for the people who work in the food and beverage industry to not only know how to cook, but to understand the history and the cultural significance of those that came before us,” Free told the Oakland Post. “We are doing our part to change the narrative of excellence being categorized as an exception for black makers. 

     “The companies that are a part of the collective have established the discipline that allows them to see their vision with clarity and purpose; having a beautiful space that supports learning, collaboration, and service allows us to continue to scale in ways that will positively affect the next generation. The more we share our gifts and talents within our community, the more our communities will thrive.”

 

     For more information, go to BlackCulinaryCollective.com

The San Francisco Chronicle, Mercury News, and Oaklandside.org were sources for this report.

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Bay Area

Good Day Cafe

Good Day Cafe is a black-owned business located in Vallejo,Ca

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 Good Day Cafe is a Black-owned cafe  located at 304 Georgia St. in Vallejo. Their hours are from 7:00 a.m.- 3:00 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday. Good Day Cafe serves Southern-style breakfast and lunch meals. They offer online orders, dine in, and delivery. Visit their website to learn more information https://gooddaycafevallejo.com/ and follow their instagram @gooddaycafevallejo

 

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Bay Area

Rush bowls

The perfect blend of all-natural fruits and veggies topped with delightfully crunchy, organic granola, a drizzle of honey, and your choice of fresh fruits and toppers.

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Rush bowls are the perfect blend of all-natural fruits and veggies topped with delightfully crunchy, organic granola, a drizzle of honey, and your choice of fresh fruits and toppers. Packed with nutrients and fully customizable, Rush bowls offer healthy, delicious alternatives to standard fast-casual fare. Rush bowls is open Mondays-Fridays from 10am-6pm at 350 17th Street, Oakland,CA 94619. Available for indoor dining, and delivery through GRUBHUBhttps://rushbowls.com/oakland

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