A group of attorneys general (AGs) from twenty-one states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico has sent a letter to CFPB Director Kraninger requesting that the CFPB immediately withdraw its guidance regarding credit reporting during the COVID-19 pandemic and “resum[e] vigorous oversight of consumer reporting agencies and enforcement of the FCRA.”
The AGs have two objections to the guidance. First, they claim that the CFPB suggests in the guidance that it will not enforce the CARES Act provision that requires lenders to continue reporting loans as current if they are subject to a forbearance or other accommodation, as long as the loans were current before the accommodation was made. Second, they claim that the CFPB also suggests that it will no longer take enforcement or supervisory actions against consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) for failing to investigate consumer disputes in a timely fashion. The AGs assert that they “will not hesitate to enforce the FCRA’s deadlines against companies that fail to comply with the law.”
The AGs’ claims regarding what the CFPB’s suggests in the guidance mischaracterizes what the CFPB actually stated. With regard to the CARES Act provision on credit reporting, the CFPB stated that it “expects furnishers to comply with the CARES Act and will work with furnishers as needed to help them do so.” With regard to investigating disputes, the Bureau stated that, in evaluating FCRA compliance as a result of the pandemic, it “will consider a consumer reporting agency’s or furnisher’s individual circumstances and does not intend to cite in an examination or bring an enforcement action against a consumer reporting agency or furnisher making good faith efforts to investigate disputes as quickly as possible, even if dispute investigations take longer than the statutory framework.”
Contrary to the AGs’ mischaracterizations, there is no suggestion by the CFPB in the guidance that it does not intend to enforce the CARES Act’s credit reporting provision. There is also no suggestion by the CFPB that it will no longer take enforcement or supervisory actions against furnishers or CRAs for not meeting dispute investigation deadlines. Rather, the CFPB has made clear that it does intend to take action against furnishers and CRAs that take longer than the statutory timeframes to investigate a dispute and will not do so only where, in light of a furnisher’s or a CRA’s individual circumstances, the furnisher or CRA made good faith efforts to investigate the dispute as quickly as possible.