On January 5, the CFPB released its Annual Report of Credit and Consumer Reporting Complaints that analyzes complaint responses by the three major consumer reporting agencies (CRAs).  The CFPB’s analysis reveals that recent changes in complaint responses provided by the CRAs resulted in fewer meaningful responses and with fewer instances of relief to consumers.  As a result, the CFPB concludes that the CRAs failed to meet their obligations under Section 611 of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which requires that CRAs review consumer allegations of incomplete or inaccurate information on consumer credit reports, including allegations made by an authorized third-party representative of the consumer.

Complaints submitted about the CRAs accounted for more than 50% of all complaints received by the CFPB in 2020 and more than 60% in 2021.  In 2021, the CRAs reported relief in less than 2% of complaints.

A statement from CFPB Director Chopra was also included in the Bureau’s press release to the report, where he stated that “America’s credit reporting oligopoly has little incentive to treat consumers fairly when their credit reports have errors.  Today’s report is further evidence of the serious harms stemming from their faulty financial surveillance business model.”

Putting it Into Practice:  The CFPB is a heavily data-driven agency, and  consumer complaint data is a crucial tool that informs the CFPB’s understanding of various consumer experiences and its enforcement activities.  Notwithstanding the focus on CRAs, the recent report likely signals the CFPB’s renewed scrutiny of FCRA compliance for all companies that report to credit bureaus, including policies related to the handling of consumer complaints.