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The Credit Repair Process for Survivors: What We Know So Far

Among the many forms of abuse and exploitation suffered by trafficking survivors, the hijacking of their credit may not sound – at first – like that big a deal. But the reality is that many survivors report their traffickers used their names to get loans they never paid off, credit cards they owed thousands to, and much more. Now, as they move forward with their lives they find that credit abuse haunting them at every turn, making it hard to rent an apartment, find a job, purchase a car, get a credit card, or secure an educational loan. This is real damage and survivors fought hard to get it changed.

Thanks to their hard work, the Debt Bondage Repair Act became law at the end of 2021. This new law created a process for survivors of trafficking to block certain damaging things from their credit reports that were a result of their being victimized. After the law was passed, it was up to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to make it workable. This meant creating a process for consumer reporting agencies to allow survivors of trafficking to block the information they want to block. This process went into effect on July 25, 2022 and it is workable. That said, it is not entirely easy and additional steps should make it more so in the foreseeable future. To date, here are some of the key takeaways about this process (this information can also be found in a fact sheet that we created):

  • The federal government is not involved in the daily process. Instead, survivors will need to submit three types of required information directly to the private companies that manage credit reports. The largest of these “consumer reporting agencies” or “credit reporting companies,” are Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. There are also specialty consumer reporting agencies that focus on specific areas such as employment screening, tenant screening, check and bank screening, and insurance. Click here for a list of these agencies. The required information to send to each of these individual agencies separately includes:
    • Proof of identity: Consumer reporting agencies will need identifying information to ensure they block information from the correct credit report.
      • Each consumer reporting agency sets their own requirements for proof of identity. Examples that are likely to satisfy the requirements may include: a copy of a driver’s license or another government-issued identification card; a copy of a utility bill, bank statement, or insurance statement.
    • Victim Determination Document(s): The law requires trafficking survivors to submit documentation that shows that a government entity (i.e. a law enforcement agency or a government-led human trafficking task force) or authorized non-governmental service provider has determined that they are a victim of trafficking. This is where the process may still get tricky.
      • Many relevant government entities do not currently issue this kind of documentation and will need to create a new process to do so.
      • Each government agency/task force is responsible for creating its own internal process and policies around authorizing non-governmental service providers and right now, most have not done so.
    • A list of specific information to be blocked from the report: Survivors will be able to self-identify what information on their consumer reports are the result of trafficking. This can include information related to things that occurred during their trafficking situation or after exiting their trafficking situation.
  • Consumer reporting agencies must temporarily block the credit information within 4 days of receiving the survivor’s submission and must make a final determination about whether or not to permanently block the information within 25 days. The credit agencies can only deny requests in very limited circumstances if the information reported meets the requirements. More information is available in the fact sheet.
  • Survivors will have the opportunity to appeal a consumer reporting agency’s denial and/or revise their submission if needed. Complaints about a specific consumer reporting agency’s implementation of this process can be made at

While this process is not perfect and may be more challenging for some survivors than others, it is a key step in providing survivors with financial freedom and a path forward.

We have tried to provide answers to some of the common questions that are coming up and have recorded a discussion with a survivor and advocate who are navigating the process to share what is understood so far. However, this process is new and we expect it to continue to evolve over time. We will continue to provide updates as we learn more information.

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Need help? Polaris operates the U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline.