Q: Does the particular internet address referenced in 32 CFR 232.5(b)(2) limit the availability of a safe harbor for a covered borrower check conducted through alternative methods of accessing the MLA database provided by the Department?
A: No. Under the safe harbor provided in § 232.5(b)(1), a creditor may conclusively determine whether credit is offered to a covered borrower by assessing the status of a consumer using information related to that consumer obtained from the database, maintained by the DMDC, for that purpose. Section 232.5(b)(2) references a uniform resource locator (URL), more commonly known as an Internet address, as a convenience to assist the public in locating the DMDC MLA database. However, that particular URL address itself does not serve as a restriction on the method through which the DMDC MLA database is accessed. For technological reasons, the Department may from time to time revise the DMDC MLA URL through providing notice on the DMDC MLA Web page. Therefore, a creditor who makes a determination regarding the status of a consumer by accessing the database maintained by the DMDC through a URL provided by the DMDC that is different from the one specifically referenced in § 232.5(b)(2) may still take advantage of the safe harbor in § 232.5(b)(1), so long as the creditor timely creates and thereafter maintains a record of the information so obtained as provided in § 232.5(b)(3).
Furthermore, the Department is currently developing a pilot project in collaboration with several financial service providers that anticipate a large volume of covered borrower checks. In this pilot project, the Department is experimenting with a direct connection that may improve access to the DMDC database for the financial services industry. This direct connection pilot project accesses the same DMDC database available through an internet query. A creditor may verify the status of a consumer by using the database maintained by the Department for that purpose, even though the creditor uses a method of accessing that database provided by the Department other than the particular URL listed in § 232.5(b)(2). Thus, a creditor who makes a determination regarding the status of a consumer under § 232.5(b)(2) by participating in the Department’s direct connection pilot project (or a similar form of access should it be provided by the Department at a future date) is deemed conclusive with respect to that transaction or account involving consumer credit between the creditor and that consumer, so long as that creditor timely creates and thereafter maintains a record of the information so obtained as provided in § 232.5(b)(3).