New CFPB Bulletin Issues Strong Warning to Furnishers of Consumer Credit Information

Furnishers Are Required to Review Documentation from Credit Reporting Agencies

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (the “CFPB”) has issued a Bulletin, dated September 4, 2013, to companies that furnish information to consumer reporting agencies (“CRAs”) regarding furnisher obligations under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (the “FCRA”). The Bulletin is intended to deal specifically with the FCRA requirement that furnishers are required to “review all relevant information” when investigating a consumer dispute. The CFPB Bulletin provides a warning to furnishers that the CFPB maintains supervisory and enforcement authority which it will use to address furnisher violations.

This Bulletin coincides with important changes to the e-OSCAR system (the electonic system used by the CRAs and furnishers to process consumer requests for reinvestigation) which were announced earlier this year. The e-OSCAR system now allows CRAs for the first time to forward to furnishers documentation provided to the CRAs by consumers as part of their dispute. Consumer advocates have been arguing for years that the CRAs failure to maintain this exact functionality rendered their reinvestigation procedures unreasonable.

The Bulletin also reminds furnishers that the CFPB expects all furnishers to maintain a system that reasonably allows them to receive information regarding disputes from CRAs, including supporting documentation and that in processing a request for reinvestigation of disputed information furnishers should review and consider “all relevant information” forwarded by the CRAs along with their own information which is relevant to the dispute.