The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued a release on May 2, 2022, announcing the release of its Supervisory Highlights outlining identified consumer protection violations during the second half of 2021. In particular, the CFPB highlighted two industries of concern in its press release: auto servicers and credit reporting companies.
As for auto servicers, the CFPB noted the issues related to repossessions and the impact on the consumer. The CFPB focused on the consumer’s loss of personal property left in a repossessed vehicle and the hardship incurred by the consumer for the return of their personal property. Additionally, the CFPB recognized the implications that a sudden loss of transportation may have on an individual and the ability to maintain employment. The CFPB also contended that some auto servicers failed to provide consumers refunds for add-ons, such as GAP insurance, to the vehicle after repossession and misled consumers about their final loan payments particularly after payment deferments following COVID-19.
The CFPB also claimed that credit reporting companies were not complying with their duties to investigate disputed debts, as required by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Under FCRA, credit reporting companies must timely investigate disputed debts by consumers. Part of that investigation includes reviewing and considering evidence in the reporting company’s file and evidence submitted by consumers.
The press release highlights medical debts on consumer credit reports as an example of an apparent failure to investigate. The CFPB explained that adding unverified medical debt to a consumer’s credit report coerces the consumer to pay the amount listed when the amount of the medical debt might be inaccurate. The CFPB placed credit reporting companies and furnishers on notice of their duty to ensure medical bills are accurate before reporting the debt. If the credit reporting companies and furnishers of medical debt cannot guarantee this, “the CFPB expects credit reporting companies to limit [the furnishers] access” to consumers’ credit reports.
In addition to the topics highlighted in the CFPB’s press release and discussed above, the CFPB’s Supervisory Highlights for the second half of 2021 discussed the following consumer protection violations, among others:
- Repossessing vehicles after consumers took action to prevent the repossession.
Credit Reporting Companies
- Failing to provide timely notice of a credit dispute to furnishers of credit information
- Failing to provide timely written notice to consumers with the finding of their credit dispute investigation
- Failing to investigate consumer disputes and instead deemed the disputes frivolous, sent incorrect results of disputes to consumer reporting companies
- Auto furnishers incorrectly calculated consumers’ payment history during dispute investigations and provided incorrect payment histories to credit reporting companies.
- Furnishers failed to update and correct consumer information to consumer reporting companies once on notice
- Continuing to pursue debts against consumers after being notified that the debt resulted from identity fraud
- Misrepresenting to consumers that they were legally obligated to pay debts created by the fraud of another
- Failing to timely refund overpayments of credit balances to consumers.\
The CFPB continues to stress its commitment to strengthening the enforcement of consumer protection violations. The CFPB’s Supervisory Highlights exemplify its mission to expand its reach to examine banks and other non-bank financial services companies. Companies with a nexus to the financial services industry are on notice to institute policies and procedures to ensure compliance with the CFPB’s expansive reading of UDAAP and Fair Lending. Additionally, furnishers of information to credit reporting companies are on notice to provide accurate credit information. The CFPB has granted credit reporting companies the right to limit furnishers of medical bills’ access to consumer credit reports that fail to provide accurate information. Given the consumer-friendly nature of the CFPB, Director Rohit Chopra may announce his approval to expand the list of furnishers with limited access to consumer credit reports.