New Warning from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) is issuing a new warning to Nationwide Specialty Consumer Reporting Agencies (“NSCRAs”) about giving consumers easy access to consumer reports.  The bulletin from the CFPB is here: http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/201211_cfpb_NSCRA_Bulletin.pdf.

“Nationwide specialty consumer reporting agencies can have great influence over a consumer’s tenancy, insurance premiums, or even employment,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “Today, the CFPB is reminding these companies that they must follow the law and provide consumers with easy access to their free annual report. If we have reason to believe that companies are not following the law, we will take action.” The full press release is here: http://www.consumerfinance.gov/pressreleases/consumer-financial-protection-bureau-issues-warning-to-nationwide-specialty-consumer-reporting-agencies/

NSCRAs are specialty consumer reporting agencies that collect and provide very specific types of information on a consumer’s history, such as insurance claims, check writing, tenancy and medical payments. They companies are different than Credit Reporting Bureaus (Transunion, Equifax, Experian) and Consumer Reporting Agencies (i.e. Background Screening Providers).

Annually, all consumers have a right to obtain a free report not only from credit bureaus, but also from NSCRAs.  Many creditors make determinations about an applicant based on information obtained from NSCRAs, so accuracy is critical.  Under federal law, consumers may dispute the accuracy of information in reports obtained on them.  The consumer reporting agency must then investigate the dispute and make corrections where necessary.

The press release issued today emphasizes the necessity for all NSCRAs to provide easy and free access to consumers to their free annual reports.  These companies must provide a toll-free number that is published in every telephone directory where a listing appears, and also have the number prominently posted on the company’s website.  In addition, these companies must also have clear and concise instructions for a consumer to obtain their report, and staff that can adequately process such requests.

The CFPB has issued warning letters to several companies that fail to meet these standards, advising them that they might be in violation of the law and should review their compliance requirements and make adjustments where necessary.  If the NSCRAs do not comply, they could be subject to enforcement actions.

Consumers can find out more information about filing a complaint or their rights at: http://www.consumerfinance.gov/complaint/


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