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CFPB Warns Companies to Investigate Credit Report Errors

NEW YORK (LowCards.com) -- The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is cracking down on companies that supply information to consumer reporting companies, and that should make it easier for consumers to get reporting errors resolved.

The CFPB issued a notice last week that says these companies -- called "furnishers" -- are responsible for investigating consumer disputes forwarded by the consumer reporting companies. Furnishers must review all relevant information provided with the disputes, including documents submitted by consumers.

"Credit reports play a critical role in the lives of consumers," CFPB Director Richard Cordray said in a statement. "Given the importance of these reports, consumers need to know that their documents are being reviewed when they dispute what they believe is a mistake on a report. Today's bulletin helps ensure that the right people will be doing just that."

The CFPB has the enforcement authority to judge if a furnisher has engaged in any acts or practices that violate the Fair Credit Reporting Act or other federal consumer financial laws. If the CFPB finds a violation of the act or other federal consumer financial laws, it can use enforcement actions and penalties, including restitution to harmed consumers.

This is good news for consumers because credit reports affect everything from interest rates and insurance to employment. A mistake or disputed charge could knock points off a credit score and trigger higher interest rates. Consumers have the right to dispute inaccuracies and ask questions, but they often have difficulty finding answers or resolution between the agencies and furnishers.

The CFPB is enforcing the legal obligations of the furnisher. Consumers may dispute an item on their credit report with the consumer reporting agency, and the agency must inform the furnisher of the dispute. The agency must forward all relevant information about the dispute to the furnisher. The furnisher is required to make an investigation and report back to the consumer reporting agency that sent the dispute originally. Furnishers must report the findings of the investigation to nationwide consumer reporting companies if those companies have received inaccurate or incomplete credit information. Furnishers must modify, delete or permanently block disputed information that is incomplete, incorrect or can't be verified.

The CFPB found the reporting system did not provide a means for credit reporting companies to forward to furnishers any documents submitted by consumers. The three largest nationwide consumer reporting companies -- Experian, Transunion and Equifax (EFX) -- use an electronic system known as "e-Oscar" to send information relating to consumer disputes to furnishers. The CFPB says the system did not provide a means for credit reporting companies to forward to furnishers any documents submitted by consumers. The CFPB has upgraded the system so the three companies can send furnishers any relevant dispute documents mailed in by consumers.

To submit a complaint, consumers can:

  • Go online.
  • Call toll-free at 1-855-411-2372.
  • Fax the CFPB at 1-855-237-2392.
  • Mail a letter to: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, P.O. Box 4503, Iowa City, IA 52244.

Bill Hardekopf is chief executive of LowCards.com, which compares and rates more than 1,000 credit cards. He is the co-author of "The Credit Card Guidebook."

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