The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issued a bulletin to companies that supply information to credit reporting agencies, stressing their legal obligation to investigate consumer disputes of credit reports.
Furnishers, as these companies are known, are required by law to review supporting documents submitted by the credit bureaus and consumers when a complaint has been filed. Previously, the electronic complaint-filing system used by the three major credit bureaus did not have the ability to forward consumer-submitted documentation to the furnishers.
An upgrade to the system has changed that, and the CFPB notified furnishers (such as credit card companies, banks and lenders) of their duty to review documents submitted through the online platform, called e-OSCAR.
“Credit reports play a critical role in the lives of consumers,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray in a news release describing the bulletin. “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.”
When consumers find mistakes on their credit reports, they can dispute these mistakes with the credit reporting bureaus. The the three major credit bureaus - Experian, Equifax and TransUnion – then forward these disputes to the furnishers through e-OSCAR. Regular monitoring of one’s credit reports makes it easy to spot errors, and all consumers are entitled to a free, annual copy of their reports from each bureau.
In 2012, the CFPB noted that e-OSCAR wasn’t capable of forwarding consumer-submitted dispute information from the credit bureaus to the furnishers. Since then the CFPB has worked to address that deficiency.
In accordance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act and other consumer financial laws, furnishers must be able to accept the information filed with the dispute, and they must investigate the potential error, the CFPB advised. Furnishers must also provide the credit-reporting company with the results of the investigation and correct the error.