WASHINGTON Nov 29 The U.S. consumer watchdog
said on Thursday that it sent letters to six specialty consumer
reporting agencies warning that they may be breaking the law by
failing to make it easy for people to get a free annual copy of
their consumer reports.
Consumers have the right to a report each year from
nationwide specialty consumer reporting companies, which collect
information and report on check-writing, medical payments and
other transactions, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
But the CFPB said some of these private companies fail to
provide toll-free numbers or lack a simple process for consumers
to obtain a free report.
The bureau did not name the companies, which could face
enforcement actions if the CFPB determines that they are
breaking the law.
"Nationwide specialty consumer reporting agencies can have
great influence over a consumer's tenancy, insurance premiums,
or even employment," CFPB Director Richard Cordray said in a
"If we have reason to believe that companies are not
following the law, we will take action," he said.
The 2010 Dodd-Frank financial oversight law created the
consumer bureau and charged it with regulating products such as
mortgage loans and credit cards.
The CFPB also oversees a federal law that requires consumer
reporting companies to give consumers a free report each year.
Nationwide specialty reporting companies -- as well as the
more traditional credit reporting businesses such as Experian
, Equifax and TransUnion -- must
provide a streamlined process for consumers obtain the reports.
Kent Markus, assistant director for enforcement at the CFPB,
said the bureau reviewed nationwide specialty reporting agencies
to see if they could find out from their websites how to request
a report and if staff were prepared to provide a report when
someone called to ask for one.
"This is a due diligence moment for the industry," Markus
said during a conference call with reporters.
The six companies that received warning letters were asked
to respond within 30 days explaining steps they have taken to
comply with the law.
The agency also released a bulletin reminding consumer
reporting agencies that they must provide a toll-free number,
have clear instructions for requesting reports, and make sure
sufficient staff are available to handle requests.