CFPB warns consumer credit agencies to increase consumers’ ease of access to credit reports

Richard Cordray

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau warned six specialty consumer reporting agencies this week that they may be breaking the law by failing to allow consumers easy access to a copy of their free annual credit report.

The federal watchdog said on Thursday that consumers are entitled to a yearly report from consumer credit reporting companies, adding that some firms either fail to implement a simple process to allow consumers to access their reports or fail to provide toll-free numbers, Reuters reports.

“Nationwide specialty consumer reporting agencies can have great influence over a consumer’s tenancy, insurance premiums or even employment,” Richard Cordray, the director of the CFPB, said, according to Reuters. “If we have reason to believe that companies are not following the law, we will take action.

The firms notified by the CFPB could face enforcement actions if the agency determines that the company’s actions were illegal.

Kent Markus, the assistant director for enforcement at the CFPB, said that the agency reviewed specialty reporting agencies to determine whether the firm’s website provided information on how to obtain a credit report and if staff members were prepared to issue a report if requested.

“This is a due diligence moment for the industry,” Markus said, Reuters reports.

The companies, which have not been named, were asked to respond within 30 days and explain to the watchdog the steps they have taken to comply with the law. The CFPB also issued a bulletin to consumer reporting agencies reminding them to provide a toll-free phone number, have a structured process in place for report requests and to ensure that enough staff members are available to handle the request volume.