CFPB Regulates the Credit Reporting Industry
Written by: Kristy Welsh
Last Updated: August 29, 2017
Few things affect your financial well-being as much as much as your credit reports and scores. Thus, the importance of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) regulation of the vast, often confusing, credit reporting industry.
Enforces the Fair Credit Reporting Act
Since 1970, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) has been protecting the rights of consumers. It is the job of the CFPB to ensure that it does just that, taking necessary action if and when credit reporting companies are in violation of your rights.
Supervises Credit Reporting Companies
In 2012, the CFPB became the first federal agency with formal jurisdiction over the operations of credit reporting companies. The industry is much bigger than many people realize, not only including the three major credit bureaus — Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax — but hundreds more companies involved in compiling, selling, reselling, and analyzing information on credit reports.
That said, the CFPB’s regulation is limited to companies earning more than $7 million in annual receipts. However, this represents 94 percent of the market. This includes around 30 agencies, the three major bureaus among them.
In this role, the CFPB is tasked with overseeing the accuracy and proper implementation of:
- Reporting accurate information
- Dealing with credit reporting disputes
- Disclosing credit report information to consumers
- Protecting consumers from fraud and identity theft
Special Bulletin to Specialty Consumer Reporting Agencies
In November 2012, the CFPB issued a bulletin to specialty consumer reporting agencies, stressing the importance of providing a free annual credit report to consumers.
These specialty agencies are those that compile and/or sell information specific to consumer medical debt, check writing, tenancy, employment, etc.
Just like the three major credit bureaus, these specialty agencies must make it clear and easy for consumers to request a copy of their report every 12 months, a point on which some were falling short.
Revisions to Credit Reporting Dispute Process
Often, the best way to prove that a listing on your credit report is incorrect is for you to send along supporting documentation. Unfortunately, the credit bureaus were notoriously lacking in their ability to pass this supporting documentation along to the creditor charged with investing your claim. No more.
At the CFPB’s urging, the credit bureaus have incorporated into their e-OSCAR program the ability to easily include this supporting documentation for the investigation of disputes.
Consumer Advisory on Child Identity Theft
In May 2014, the CFPB issued a warning on the prevalence of identity theft among foster children. Their information is stored in agency databases and may be shared with numerous people over the years. As a result, foster kids are particularly vulnerable to identity theft.
Compiles Reports on the Credit Reporting Industry
In September 2012, the CFPB published Analysis of Differences Between Consumer- and Credit-Purchased Credit Scores. This addresses the much-misunderstood reason consumers see different scores than those used by creditors to make lending decisions.
In December 2012, the CFPB published Key Dimensions and Processes in the U.S. Credit Reporting System, a review of how the nation’s largest credit bureaus manage consumer data.
Answers Credit Reporting Questions via Ask CFPB
Get the facts in the Ask CFPB section of its website, with questions ranging from the basics – like “How do I get a credit report?” and “How do I get and keep a good credit score?” — to more complicated concerns, like:
- Should I use a credit monitoring service to protect myself from identity theft?
- What should my dispute letter to a credit reporting company look like?
- What can I do if I disagree with the results of a credit report dispute?
To ask your question, or browse through those most commonly asked, go to ConsumerFinance.gov. Click on Get Assistance, select CFPB, and search the Credit Reports and Scores category.
Accepts Consumer Reporting Complaints
Is a dispute of a listing on your credit report going unanswered? Did you receive an answer, but it failed to correct a listing you know to be erroneous? Are you having trouble accessing the free credit reports you are entitled to every 12 months, not only from the three major credit bureaus, but specialty credit agencies as well?
Whatever the issue relative to credit reporting, the CFPB wants to hear about it.
When you submit a complaint to the CFPB:
- Your complaint and supporting documentation is forwarded to the company for their review.
- The company has 15 days to respond to the CFPB and to you.
- The CFPB provides you with email updates on your complaint status.
Note, the CFPB also shares complaints with state and federal law enforcement agencies, and sends a complaint report to Congress twice a year. Your complaint may also be posted to the Consumer Complaint Database (minus any personally-identifying information).