House Subcommittee Chair Accuses CRAs of Failing to Fully Investigate Disputes

The chair of the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis has sent a letter to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, asking it to investigate the three major credit reporting agencies for possible violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, including potentially failing to investigate disputes filed by consumers. The 12-page letter, from Rep. Jim Clyburn [D-S.C.], says that the committee has obtained information indicating “there are longstanding problems” in how the three CRAs respond to consumer disputes.

Rep. Clyburn had previously sent letters to the chief executives of Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion seeking information about how they responded to consumer complaints and disputes during the pandemic. The number of disputes filed directly by consumers with the CRAs in 2019, 2020, and 2021 was double the amount estimated by the CFPB and 22 times higher than the number of complaints filed with the Bureau, according to the letter. The CRAs are also accused of “discarding tens of millions” of disputes without any investigation because they were allegedly submitted by unauthorized third parties. The criteria used by the CRAs to determine whether a dispute was submitted legitimately or not is “vague” and “may create risks that legitimate disputes submitted directly by consumers or their authorized representatives are being dismissed without investigation,” Rep. Clyburn writes.

The letter also accuses the CRAs of being overreliant on furnishers to conduct dispute investigations. All three CRAs referred more than half of the dispute submissions to furnishers, “cast[ing] doubt on the sufficiency” of their investigations.

Along with calling on the CFPB to dig into the actions of the CRAs “to ensure they are fully complying with the FCRA and are making a reasonable effort to identify and correct errors on consumer reports,” the letter includes pages and pages of information and data regarding the dispute investigation processes at the CRAs.

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