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AG Nessel Joins Bipartisan Coalition Working to Protect Trafficking Survivors

LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel joined a bipartisan coalition of 41 attorneys general in asking the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to support the intent of the Debt Bondage Repair Act in the agency’s rulemaking implementing recent amendments to Section 605C of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). 

The Debt Bondage Repair Act was signed into law in December 2021 and prohibits credit rating agencies from providing consumer reports that contain negative items about human trafficking survivors from any period during which the individual was being trafficked. It is a common tactic of traffickers to strip their victims of their financial independence or stability in order to keep them trapped. Even after they escape their trafficking, these survivors are often left with a wrecked credit history that leaves them unable to rent an apartment, purchase a car, or find employment. 

“I remain committed to using a victim-centered approach with human trafficking survivors,” Nessel said. “It would be contrary to this approach to allow victims harmed by human trafficking to be further harmed – this time financially – by unauthorized debt taken out in their name by their traffickers. I am proud to stand with my colleagues in supporting the Debt Bondage Repair Act because one of the first steps in recovering from the ordeal of human trafficking victimization is regaining financial independence.” 

As the Attorneys General note in their letter: “More than 1 in 4 survivors of human trafficking reported that a bank account or credit card which was opened in their name was then used or controlled by their trafficker. Traffickers can then mismanage the victim’s account, resulting in harm to their credit. This harm can linger for years after survivors have escaped their trafficking. Restoring financial independence is a crucial component of a survivor’s recovery. By regaining control over their finances, survivors reclaim and reassert their personhood in defiance of their traffickers. This takes bravery and time. Without some mechanism to help them, negative consumer reports that resulted from their trafficking become an almost insurmountable obstacle to simple tasks, like opening a bank account, renting an apartment, and applying for a job – all foundational steps as they try to get back on their feet. We welcome the Bureau’s proposal to implement the prohibition against reporting adverse information resulting from trafficking and to establish a method for submitting broadly-defined documentation of that trafficking, as contemplated by the Debt Bondage Repair Act.” 

The letter was signed by Attorneys General of Delaware, Mississippi, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming.