May 1, 2020
LANSING – As Americans continue to struggle from the economic fallout of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel joined 21 other attorneys general in warning the nation’s three Consumer Reporting Agencies (CRAs) that they will not hesitate to enforce safeguards set in place to ensure consumers’ credit is properly protected and accurately reported.
In a letter, sent Tuesday to Experian Information Solutions, Inc.; Equifax Information Services, LLC; and TransUnion LCC, the coalition reinforced their commitment to enforcing the consumer credit protections outlined in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) passed last month, as well as in the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), despite the federal government’s failure to commit to enforcing the FCRA's 30 to 45-day deadline to investigate consumer disputes.
The letter emphasizes that the coalition will continue to actively monitor and enforce compliance during the COVID-19 crisis and will hold the CRAs accountable for failure to meet their obligations.
“Consumer protection enforcement and ensuring the wallets of Michiganders are adequately protected as we navigate through this crisis is at the forefront of our work at the Michigan Department of Attorney General,” said Nessel. “Despite the federal government’s failure to commit to some of the crucial enforcement requirements in both the CARES and Fair Credit Reporting Acts, my colleagues and I have put the three credit reporting agencies on notice to make it clear that we will enforce the law.”
In March 2020, Congress enacted the CARES Act to extend relief to struggling consumers and amend the FCRA to enable consumers to obtain CARES Act relief without incurring lasting harm to their credit scores. To prevent such harm, the CARES Act requires organizations to report a credit obligation as “current” if the obligation was current prior to the grant of a CARES Act accommodation.
The FCRA also protects consumers by requiring CRAs to take no more than 30 days (or in some cases 45 days) to investigate when consumers dispute the accuracy of information on their credit report. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, however, recently issued guidance that suggests that it will not enforce these deadlines during the COVID-19 crisis, instead imposing a weaker requirement that CRAs make "good faith efforts to investigate disputes as quickly as possible."
In Tuesday’s letter, the group warns the three CRAs that each state will enforce the requirements of the FCRA and agreements between CRAs and states to conduct meaningful and timely investigations of consumer disputes of credit information.
The attorneys general write: “This CARES Act provision is critically important both to individual consumers and to the overall recovery of the economy because it ensures that consumers obtain essential relief without jeopardizing their future ability to secure employment, rent or buy a home, obtain a credit card, or purchase a car, the state attorneys general expect compliance with this vital provision of the CARES Act, and we will actively monitor for and enforce such compliance.”
At a time when the nation faces significant economic uncertainty, it is more important than ever that CRAs meet their obligations under the law to protect consumers against incorrect information in their credit reports that could prevent them from conducting all of the normal activities they would be able to do before the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Tuesday’s letter follows a letter sent to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on April 13, urging the agency to rescind its announcement that it would not enforce certain provisions of the CARES Act and the FCRA.
Nessel joins the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania. Rhode Island, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin in sending this letter.