On November 10, a group of Democratic senators sent a letter to Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) Director Rohit Chopra, requesting that the CFPB take a proactive stance in its regulation of consumer reporting agencies (CRAs). The group, led by Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) and which includes Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH), specifically asked the CFPB to evaluate errors and ensure equity in credit reporting.
The letter begins by citing prior studies, including one from the Federal Trade Commission, that show that there is a significant amount of consumers — up to 1/3 of participants in one survey — who have indicated that they’ve found at least one error in their credit report. The letter then cites the CFPB’s recent report on credit report disputes (which we wrote about here) to show that errors in credit reporting can “exacerbate the racial wealth gap.”
In noting that Dodd-Frank gave the CFPB supervisory, rulemaking, and enforcement authority over the largest nationwide CRAs, the senators urged the CFPB to take immediate action on these matters. Some suggested actions include:
- Evaluating persistent errors in credit reporting and how CRAs consistently fail to resolve these errors, especially by failing to devote sufficient personnel and resources for dispute resolution — a shortcoming the CFPB could remedy using its supervisory authority.
- Creating an ombudsperson position at the CFPB to facilitate the dispute resolution process and help ensure accuracy.
- Requiring nationwide CRAs to instead match all nine digits of a consumer’s Social Security number, especially in the aftermath of the CFPB’s disputes report.
- Requiring nationwide CRAs to perform periodic accuracy audits on information furnishers.
- Reviewing the potential to codify provisions of the nationwide CRAs’ settlement with 31 state attorneys general that delayed reporting of medical debt for six months and removed debts paid by insurance.
- Requiring CRAs to address the potential for algorithmic bias and to provide reports in Spanish and other languages for consumers with limited English proficiency.
The letter concludes by noting that this is not an exhaustive list of credit reporting concerns, and that the senators would like to hear more from Director Chopra on his agenda related to credit reporting.