CFPB Issues Advisory Opinion on Junk Data

Since we do a tremendous amount of mistakenly reported deceased litigation against consumer credit reporting agencies, we know how bad the current situation really is.

On that point, there is news about these types of cases and more coming from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

On Oct. 20, 2022, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issued a substantial Advisory Opinion interpreting Section 607(b) of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Section 607(b) is one of many technical provisions imposing specific compliance obligations on consumer reporting agencies (CRAs).

The Advisory Opinion says that the CRAs will be deemed to have violated the FCRA’s mandate to build and carry out “reasonable procedures to assure maximum possible accuracy” of information about consumers whose credit information or personal attributes are being reported.

“When a credit report accuses someone of defaulting on a loan before they were born, this is nonsensical, junk data that should have never shown up in the first place,” said CFPB Director Rohit Chopra. “Consumer reporting companies have a clear obligation to use better procedures to screen for and eliminate conflicting information, or information that cannot be true.”

Consumer reporting companies such as Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion have a legal requirement to follow reasonable procedures to assure maximum possible accuracy to avoid this type of junk data.

That means that they must have policies and procedures to eliminate junk data so it doesn’t do damage to consumers like you and me.

Inconsistent account information: Sometimes, consumer reports can show two or more pieces of information that cannot be true. For example, an account or tradeline is paid in full but still shows that money is owed on that account. Do you see the issue here?

Another example is when the date of the first missed payment (or the date of first delinquency) is actually before the account was opened in the first place. Do you see how that can’t be true?

Information that cannot be accurate: Sometimes, information on consumer reports reflects obvious impossibilities. For example, if a tradeline includes a date that predates the consumer’s date of birth or if just one of many tradelines indicates a consumer is deceased.

By Joseph P. McClelland

About the author 

Joseph McClelland

Consumer Attorney that fights big businesses on your behalf.
Started his career in international human rights before eventually finding his true calling in consumer protection law. He is a husband and trial lawyer. Most of his work involves credit reporting errors, robocalls, and identity theft. His law practice is in the Atlanta/Decatur area.