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Yesterday, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released a policy statement outlining its supervisory and enforcement practices regarding credit reporting during the COVID-19 crisis. In the statement, the CFPB both encourages credit reporting agencies and furnishers to continue credit reporting while also providing some leeway in the Fair Credit Reporting Act's timeline for companies who themselves are experiencing hardships—such as layoffs—due to the disaster.
According to the statement:
The continued operation of the consumer reporting system will play a critical role in the functioning of the consumer financial services market, promoting fair and efficient access to credit and benefiting consumers and creditors alike.
For this reason, the CFPB urges furnishers to continue credit reporting during this time. The CFPB also urgers furnishers to work with consumers to be flexible and provide relief where appropriate and where required by the CARES Act. The CFPB makes a point, however, to point out that the CARES Act puts certain responsibilities on furnishers. Specifically, furnishers are required "to report as current certain credit obligations for which furnishers make payment accommodations to consumers affected by COVID 19."
The CFPB continues:
The Bureau supports furnishers’ voluntary efforts to provide payment relief, and it does not intend to cite in examinations or take enforcement actions against those who furnish information to consumer reporting agencies that accurately reflects the payment relief measures they are employing.
In the same vein as helping consumers who are suffering hardships due to COVID-19, the CFPB recognizes that data furnishers might be similarly suffering due to a reduction in staff. Because of this, the CFPB will ease its enforcement of meeting the FCRA's strict dispute investigation timelines on a case-by-case basis. The CFPB "does not intend to cite in an examination or bring an enforcement action against a consumer reporting agency or furnished making good faith efforts to investigate disputes as quickly as possible." (Emphasis added.)
Finally, the CFPB reminds companies that there are statutory and regulatory provisions "that eliminate the obligation to investigate disputes submitted by credit repair organizations and disputes they reasonably determine to be frivolous or irrelevant."