WASHINGTON — The nation’s three largest credit-reporting companies have agreed to make it easier for consumers to correct mistakes, and to wait longer to list unpaid medical bills to allow more time for insurance payments, under a government settlement announced Monday.

The changes are designed to address widespread concerns about incorrect information compiled by Equifax Inc., Experian Information Solutions Inc. and TransUnion, which produce credit reports for about 200 million Americans.

Government officials and consumer watchdogs have complained about the accuracy of the information and the difficulties consumers have in correcting the mistakes.

“Credit reports touch every part of our lives. They affect whether we can obtain a credit card, take out a college loan, rent an apartment or buy a car – and sometimes even whether we can get jobs,” said New York state Attorney Geneneral Eric Schneiderman, who negotiated the settlement.

“The nation’s largest reporting agencies have a responsibility to investigate and correct errors on consumers’ credit reports,” he said.

His office began investigating the three firms in 2012 and quickly found that “their system for resolving complaints was fundamentally flawed,” he said.

The companies agreed to major changes in their practices and will implement them nationwide in the coming months.

Under the agreement, the firms will have to use trained employees to review complaints about errors on credit reports. If a bank or other creditor says a consumer’s information is correct, the credit-reporting companies must assign an employee to look into the dispute.

Before the settlement, credit reporting companies simply took the word of the lender in determining if a consumer’s complaint was valid, Schneiderman said.

“The burden has been entirely on the consumer to work their way through a very challenging system … and a system that relies way too much on the people who generated the bad data in the first place just confirming their bad data is good,” he said.

In addition, medical bills won’t be listed as unpaid for 180 days to allow time for insurance payments to be applied. About 52 percent of all debt listed on credit reports is for medical expenses, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said last year.