Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Let me begin by saying that I appreciate the very thorough and methodical approach you have taken to examining the Fair Credit Reporting Act. I believe it is important that we move in a timely fashion to extend the expiring provisions of the Act to ensure that our credit system remains the envy of the world. But, I also strongly believe that we must be open to necessary modifications and improvements in the Act. We have an important opportunity to look at what has worked and what hasn't and to respond to changes in technology, our economy, and our ever-evolving understanding of consumers' needs.
Today, we are going to be examining the issue of accuracy of credit reports. In many ways this is the linch pin in the entire credit-granting system. If we cannot assure that this information is correct, it could cost consumers thousands and thousands of dollars through improperly inflated interest rates. It is, therefore, absolutely imperative that the companies who furnish credit data be certain that the information they keep on all of us is accurate .
In addition, when that information is not accurate, consumers need a quick and easy resolution process. In a fast-paced society like ours, unnecessarily long delays in correcting inaccurate credit reports have profound consequences. They can lead to denial of a mortgage to buy a home or the steering into a subprime loan. They can lead to the inability to get a credit card or an unwarranted increase in interest rates on an existing credit card. They can also create reduced work productivity and extreme stress as consumers must take off work and spend countless hours trying to correct mistakes that occurred through no fault of their own.
I believe that it is important to ensure that consumers have fair and expedient means to address inaccuracies in their credit reports and I look forward to hearing some of the solutions proposed by our witnesses today.
Let me also take a moment, Mr. Chairman, if I might, to say that as we prepare to mark up FCRA legislation, one other thing that I believe is absolutely essential in enhancing the way our credit system works is elevating the financial literacy of America's consumers. While laws and regulations can protect people, one of the most powerful weapons we have to protect ourselves from fraud and inaccurate information about our finances is education. I want to work with all of my colleagues to ensure that, as part of this process, the Federal government is taking steps to improve its efforts on financial literacy.
Again, I commend you and the Ranking Member, Mr. Sarbanes, for your leadership on this issue. I look forward hearing from our witnesses today and to working with all of my colleagues to ensure a timely reauthorization and improvement of the Fair Credit Reporting Act.