Legislation Introduced to Protect Credit of Federal Employees Impacted by Shutdowns

New legislation aims to protect the credit reports of federal employees impacted by government shutdowns.

Legislation recently introduced in the House claims it would prevent adverse actions from being taken against federal employees impacted by partial government shutdowns with respect to their credit reports.

Introduced by Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), the Protecting Innocent Consumers Affected by a Shutdown Act (H.R. 4328) would require that a new database of impacted individuals be set up that credit report users could consult to see which federal employees are impacted during shutdowns. If the credit report users then knew that an individual was financially impacted by a shutdown, he or she could not take an “adverse action” against the impacted federal employee.

The legislation reads as follows:

Prohibition on adverse actions against employees affected by a shutdown

If a user of a consumer report knows that a consumer is an employee affected by a shutdown, such user may not take an adverse action based on:

  1. any adverse item of information contained in such report with respect to an action or inaction taken during a covered shutdown period by the employee; or
  2. information on the consumer included in the database established under section 630.

As to the database that would be set up, the bill states that “Each authority of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of the Federal Government or District of Columbia” would provide data on federal employees and their furlough/pay statuses as well as contractors.

Federal employees could also self identify as being impacted by a government shutdown, but in this case, the bill states that the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection would cross check these claims to ensure they are valid. Federal employees would self certify through either a website or calling a phone number.

The bill is similar to one that was introduced in the Senate by Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI). His bill, the Protect Federal Workers Credit Act (S. 535), would force credit bureaus to remove negative information that was placed on the credit reports of federal workers and contractors who missed payments as a result of a government shutdown. It would apply to future shutdowns as well as the most recent one.

About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of FedSmith.com. He has over 20 years of combined experience in media and government services, having worked at two government contracting firms and an online news and web development company prior to his current role at FedSmith.