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AG Shapiro to CFPB: Consumers Must Be Protected During COVID-19 Emergency

April 13, 2020 | Topic: Consumers

HARRISBURG― Attorney General Shapiro led a coalition of 23 Attorneys General to demand the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) enforce the CARES Act and require credit reporting agencies to follow the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) during the COVID-19 crisis. The CFPB’s recent announcement that they would not enforce the law would leave consumers at the mercy of unresponsive credit agencies at a critical time.

“Pennsylvanians need more financial protection during this emergency, not less,” said Attorney General Shapiro. “We won’t let the millions of Americans who’ve lost jobs and lost wages be at the mercy of the credit reporting agencies. It’s wrong, it’s bad for our entire economy, and we’re fighting it. If the CFPB won’t do its job and enforce the FCRA, we will.”

“In addition to its enormous health toll, the COVID-19 global pandemic is causing significant economic disruption as well. Businesses are closed and millions of workers have already filed claims for unemployment compensation,” said the Attorneys General in their letter to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. “If we hope to have a quick economic recovery when this crisis is over, American consumers must be fully equipped to reenter the market. The status of Americans’ credit reports will be vital to ensuring strong participation in the economy. The importance of protecting consumers’ credit is even greater during this crisis.”

The letter was written in response to an announcement by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that: (1) the CFPB would not enforce an amendment to the Fair Credit Reporting Act that requires lenders to report as current any loans that are affected by a COVID-19-related accommodation; and (2) the CFPB would not take action against consumer reporting agencies that violate the FCRA’s 30-day deadline  to investigate consumer disputes.

Attorney General Shapiro outlined his opposition to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s announcement through three rebuttals:

  • The CFPB’s announcement that it will not enforce the CARES Act’s requirements could discourage consumers from taking advantage of the accommodations that lenders are required to offer under the CARES Act or those that they are offering voluntarily—like the PA CARE Package;
  • The CFPB’s announcement it will not require consumer reporting agencies to investigate consumer disputes within 30 days puts consumers at risk;
  • Consumer reporting agencies must be vigilant about accurately reporting consumer credit, which can only be done by following the requirements established by the FCRA as amended by the CARES Act.

The letter to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was led by Pennsylvania Attorney General Shapiro, and was joined by 22 Attorneys General from California, Colorado, Washington D.C., Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

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