The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has released a set of Frequently Asked Questions — and answers — related to how furnishers must comply with the credit reporting requirements of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The FAQs supplement a statement that the CFPB had previously issued, reminding furnishers of the duty to comply with the law.
A copy of the FAQs can be accessed by clicking here. They walk through the credit reporting process, including addressing how furnishers conduct investigations when a tradeline has been disputed and how to manage accommodations that might be made by furnishers to help individuals who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
One area that the CFPB attempted to clarify in the FAQ is guidance it issued that said the Bureau would be flexible in giving furnishers more than the mandated 30 days to investigate and respond to disputes, to help furnishers “meet the challenges” that the pandemic has created, with so many companies forced to deploy their workforces to work from home.
“While the Bureau’s Statement indicated that the Bureau would provide some flexibility in its supervisory and enforcement approach during the COVID-19 pandemic to help furnishers and consumer reporting agencies manage the challenges of the current crisis, the Statement did not say that the Bureau would give furnishers or consumer reporting agencies an unlimited time beyond the statutory deadlines to investigate disputes before the Bureau would take supervisory or enforcement action,” it said in the FAQ. “Furnishers and consumer reporting agencies remain responsible for conducting reasonable investigations of consumer disputes in a timely fashion.”
Among the other questions that are answered in the guidance are:
- Shortly after Congress enacted the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”), Pub. L. 116-136, the Bureau issued a statement addressing consumer reporting and the CARES Act. What did that statement say?
- The CARES Act requires that furnishers must report as current certain accounts for consumers affected by the pandemic. What did the Bureau’s Statement say about enforcement of this requirement?
- The CARES Act addresses accommodations to consumers impacted by COVID-19. What is an accommodation for purposes of the CARES Act amendments to the FCRA?
- Under the CARES Act, is there a requirement that furnishers provide accommodations to consumers impacted by the pandemic?
- If a furnisher provides a consumer an accommodation, what are its consumer reporting obligations?
- What do furnishers need to consider when reporting consumers as current pursuant to the CARES Act?
- Can a furnisher comply with the requirements of the CARES Act relating to reporting of accommodations simply by using a special comment code to report a natural or declared disaster or forbearance?
- Is a furnisher permitted to report all of their consumers’ accounts or all of their consumers’ accounts in a particular product line (e.g., all auto loans) as in forbearance?
- What must furnishers do in reporting the status of an account after a CARES Act accommodation ends?