WASHINGTON -- In an attempt to update the 1970 Fair Credit Reporting Act, the House passed a bill Monday that would make retailers liable for mistakes in consumer credit reports. The National Retail Federation does not like the House plan, said John Dill, its senior vice president of government affairs. He said the industry has taken the position that the current system works well. Instead, the NRF plans to attempt to influence a conference to be held to reconcile the House version with a Senate plan passed May 4.

"No burdens on retailers are needed to ensure accurate credit reports," Dill said. He noted that retailers currently voluntarily provide credit information to credit reporting bureaus, and if the penalties for providing inaccurate information are increased, they would simply stop providing the information.

This could make consumer credit reports incomplete, and so restrict the availability of credit and consequently harm consumers, Dill said.

The bill is the culmination of several years of congressional negotiations.

Under the House plan, consumers would be able to sue retailers who provide credit-reporting bureaus with inaccurate information and fail to investigate once consumer complaints are made. The Senate plan would largely exempt providers of credit information, such as retailers, from penalties if they are promptly corrected. The Senate bill also would preempt state credit reporting laws and replace them with a uniform federal standard.

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