CFPB puts firms on notice about duty to investigate consumer credit disputes

cfpbThe CFPB issued a notice on Wednesday reminding companies that supply information to consumer reporting firms—or furnishers—are responsible for investigating consumer disputes forwarded from reporting companies and to review all information provided with the disputes.

“Credit reports play a critical role in the lives of consumers,” CFPB Director Richard Cordray said. “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.”

Consumers are able to file a dispute regarding an item on their credit report, after which the consumer reporting company is required to inform the furnisher that the consumer has filed a dispute.

The consumer reporting company is also required to forward any and all relevant information about the dispute to the furnisher, which must review it, conduct an investigation and respond to the reporting company.

A December 2012 report highlighted that “e-OSCAR”—the electronic system used by the three largest consumer reporting firms—lacked a means for reporting companies to send furnishers documents submitted by consumers related to disputes, leading the CFPB to work to ensure the improvement of the system.

The e-OSCAR system has been upgraded, allowing all three companies to send furnishers any relevant dispute information mailed in by consumers. The CFPB said it would continue to ensure that the system is expanded further in the near future.

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