Alert December 11, 2012

CFPB Issues Guidance and Warning Letters to Nationwide Specialty Consumer Reporting Agencies

The CFPB issuedguidance bulletin setting forth its expectations for nationwide specialty consumer reporting agencies in meeting their requirements under the Fair Credit Reporting Act and its implementing regulation, Regulation V. Nationwide specialty consumer reporting agencies are CRAs that maintain and provide information on consumers non-credit related history, such as medical payments, tenancy history, and check writing. The CFPB expects nationwide specialty CRAs to comply with FCRA and Regulation V by, among other things, providing and publishing in every telephone directory and on its website a toll-free number for consumers to request free annual file disclosures; providing  clear and understandable information and instructions to consumers (e.g., status of request or FAQs); and collecting only as much personal information from a consumer requesting a disclosure as is reasonably necessary to identify the consumer properly.

The bulletin was issued after a review of the phone listing and websites for nationwide specialty CRAs and attempts to request annual disclosures found that these CRAs were deficient in meeting their obligation to provide a streamlined process for consumers to request a free annual consumer report. In response, the CFPB issued warning letters to nationwide specialty consumer reporting agencies about their failure to comply with provisions of Regulation V. Consumer reporting agencies that received warning letters were advised to contact the CFPB within 30 days to advise the CFPB on the steps taken or that will be taken to comply with the requirements of FCRA and Regulation V. This is the second instance of the CFPB utilizing warning letters as a means of enforcement (see November 27, 2012 Alert discussing the MAP Rule violations warning letters).