Q: The FCRA requires furnishers and consumer reporting agencies to conduct investigations of disputes within specified timeframes. What did the Bureau’s Statement say about citing or suing furnishers for violating the FCRA for failure to investigate disputes?
A: While the Bureau’s Statement indicated that the Bureau would provide some flexibility in its supervisory and enforcement approach during the COVID-19 pandemic to help furnishers and consumer reporting agencies manage the challenges of the current crisis (see FAQ #1), the Statement did not say that the Bureau would give furnishers or consumer reporting agencies an unlimited time beyond the statutory deadlines to investigate disputes before the Bureau would take supervisory or enforcement action. Furnishers and consumer reporting agencies remain responsible for conducting reasonable investigations of consumer disputes in a timely fashion. The Statement makes clear that the Bureau expects furnishers and consumer reporting agencies to make good faith efforts to investigate disputes as quickly as possible when they are impacted by COVID-19. Furnishers include a wide variety of businesses that vary in size and sophistication and can range from small retailers to very large financial services firms. The Bureau has jurisdiction over the hundreds of consumer reporting agencies in operation, which include smaller and specialty consumer reporting agencies. Many of these furnishers and consumer reporting agencies face unique challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Thus, the Bureau believes it is appropriate to evaluate individually the efforts and circumstances of each furnisher and consumer reporting agency in determining if it made good faith efforts to investigate disputes as quickly as possible.