CFPB Takes Action to Address Misrepresentations in Credit Reports | So Good News
Washington, DC – Today, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued guidance to consumer reporting companies about their responsibility to review and remove “false” information from consumer credit reports. Companies must take steps to reliably identify and remove inconsistent or implausible information from consumer profiles. For example, many children in foster care have a lot of information on their credit reports that is unnecessary because they are not allowed to enter into many credit agreements at a young age.
“When a credit report accuses someone of defaulting before they’re born, that’s nonsense, nonsense that shouldn’t be exposed in the first place,” said CFPB Director Rohit Chopra. “Consumer reporting companies have a responsibility to use better methods to investigate and remove conflicting information, or information that may not be true.”
While data misappropriation affects millions of Americans, children in foster care may be the most vulnerable to these problems due to the high rate of theft that affects people. The approximately 400,000 children in the United States in foster care who are homeless often do not have permanent addresses, and their personal information is often shared among many authorities and agencies. When perpetrators take advantage of children in their care and use their personal assets to borrow money, foster children grow up with a bad and negative reputation that can prevent them from becoming financially independent.
When consumer reporting companies include inconsistent or conflicting account information or information that is unclear or may not be true, consumers can suffer real problems. Information contained in the reports may result in the consumer being denied a loan, home, or job, or paying more on the loan. Bad things can come in many forms, but some examples are credit reports that show a child has a mortgage, or a credit report that shows debt from years before the person was born.
Consumer reporting companies are required to follow appropriate procedures to ensure that the information they collect and report is accurate. As part of these requirements, companies must have policies and procedures to review and remove unnecessary data. In particular, policies and procedures should identify and eliminate:
- Unaffiliated account information: Sometimes consumer reports may show two or more information that may not be true. For example, an account is fully paid but still shows a balance, or the first day of delinquency before the account was opened.
- Information that may not be correct: Sometimes most of the consumer reports show the impossible to predict. For example, if a product line has a date before the buyer’s birthday or if one of the many products indicates that the buyer is deceased.
The policies, procedures, and practices of the consumer reporting company must also recognize and prohibit the provision of inappropriate credit reports to a minor. Children generally cannot legally enter into credit contracts except in a few cases, including student loan applications, free child loans, or as authorized users of a credit card.
Today’s guidance is part of the CFPB’s ongoing efforts to ensure that consumer reporting companies comply with consumer investment protection laws. Consumer complaints filed with the CFPB continue to show serious concerns about consumer reporting errors. Complaints about “incorrect information on your report” represent the largest share of credit or consumer reporting complaints filed with the CFPB over the past six years, and the CFPB receives more complaints about credit reporting than any other issue.
Read the advisory opinion, Credit Reports; Facially False Data .
The CFPB has published tools to help child welfare workers fight credit reporting errors that affect children in foster care.
Consumers can submit consumer complaints or credit reports, or complaints about other financial products and services, by visiting the CFPB’s website or by calling (855) 411-CFPB (2372).
Employees who believe their companies have violated federal credit protection laws, including the Fair Credit Reporting Act, are encouraged to send information to [email protected]
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is a 21st-century agency that helps financial markets function by creating effective regulations, enforcing them consistently and fairly, and empowering consumers to take control of their financial lives. For more information, visit www.consumerfinance.gov.