Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I would like to thank both you and Ranking Member Sarbanes for agreeing to hold this hearing on the issues raised by the reauthorization of the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Enacted in 1970, the Fair Credit Reporting Act has served an important role in this nation. In the time since its first passage it is astounding to consider the fundamental changes which have occurred in our credit system. In 1970, credit card charges over twenty dollars required the store owner to call the creditor and have a staffer go through a card catalog system to approve the transaction. Today it takes just seconds, even when you are on the other side of the world. While we take this innovation for granted it demonstrates how fundamentally our system of payments has changed.
In addition, the benefits of the Fair Credit Reporting Act have also been responsible for many of the advancements in how we choose financial products which best meet our needs. A system of fairly and rapidly assessing an individuals financial responsibility ensures that people can have quick access to competitive offers for credit, insurance or other financial products. Clearly, our current credit system has been one of our nation's best assets to benefiting individuals at every level of the economic ladder. This unprecedented access to credit combined with the low cost for credit realized through the efficiencies produced by law have created new opportunities for people who have never had access to credit before. No longer is collateral essential in qualifying for a loan, people can now raise themselves on the ladder of economic success simply by proving that they can responsibly handle their financial affairs.
Given this opportunity to reauthorize the Fair Credit Reporting Act, we must ensure that our actions do not result in increases in the cost of credit and lower access to credit. To do so could have harmful effects on our recovering economy. At the same time we must ensure that the law applies to everyone fairly and that the system to protect consumers against questionable material on credit reports operates efficiently and effectively.
I look forward to hearing the thoughts and observations of our witness and to working with all of my colleagues on the committee as we reauthorize this very important law this year.