Compliance responsibilities of credit reporting agencies and furnishers of report information under the consumer and business relief provisions of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) are outlined in a policy statement issued Wednesday by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
The CFPB notes that generally, the CARES Act requires lenders to report to credit bureaus that consumers are current on their loans if consumers have sought relief from their lenders due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The bureau is also encouraging lenders to provide such relief and to continue to report accurate information to reporting agencies.
“Many furnishers are or will be offering consumers affected by COVID-19 various forms of payment flexibility, including allowing consumers to defer or skip payments, as required by the CARES Act or voluntarily,” according to the policy statement. “Such payment accommodations will avoid the reporting of delinquencies resulting from the effects of COVID-19. The Bureau supports furnishers’ voluntary efforts to provide payment relief, and it does not intend to cite in examinations or take enforcement actions against those who furnish information to consumer reporting agencies that accurately reflects the payment relief measures they are employing.”
Due to staffing and resources constraints on lenders and credit bureaus caused by the pandemic, the CFPB statement also provides flexibility for lenders and credit bureaus in the time they take to investigate disputes. “In evaluating compliance with the FCRA as a result of the pandemic, the Bureau will consider a consumer reporting agency’s or furnisher’s individual circumstances and does not intend to cite in an examination or bring an enforcement action against a consumer reporting agency or furnisher making good faith efforts to investigate disputes as quickly as possible, even if dispute investigations take longer than the statutory timeframe,” according to the statement.
The CFPB also reminds of statutory and regulatory provisions that eliminate the obligation of reporting agencies and furnishers to investigate disputes submitted by credit repair organizations “and disputes they reasonably determine to be frivolous or irrelevant.” The agency said it “will consider the significant current constraints on furnisher and consumer reporting agency time, information, and other resources in assessing if such a determination is reasonable.”