Are You Using Your Credit Reports Illegally?

January 10, 2020 at 9:18 am Leave a comment

I’m asking this question to highlight an enforcement action announced by the CFPB yesterday against several companies which, if the allegations are true, blatantly violated several sections of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) by obtaining credit reports under false pretenses and passing them around like stewardesses passing  out airline peanuts. I want to highlight the case not only because of its accusations, but because I wanted to provide you an ever so gentle reminder to use your credit reports consistent with the reasons you obtained them in the first place.

15 U.S.C. 1681b(f) permits entities to obtain prescreened credit reports provided that the individuals who qualify under the criteria will receive a firm offer of credit. A “firm offer” is an offer that will be honored subject to certain exceptions. The bottom line is that credit reports are not to be used simply to facilitate marketing, but are instead to be used for legitimate underwriting purposes.

The lawsuit that the CFPB announced yesterday is against several companies, ranging from a mortgage broker to a student loan debt consolidator to a mortgage lender that apparent did not get this memo. For instance, Monster Loans obtained prescreened lists from Experian, ostensibly to offer mortgage loans. There would, of course, be nothing wrong with this if that was all that Monster Loans used these lists for. However, Monster Loans subsequently distributed these lists to third parties, including an entity that specialized in student loan debt consolidation.

Although I’m concentrating on the FCRA part of the complaint, the defendants are also accused of engaging in unfair and deceptive practices, and the Telemarketing and Consumer Fraud and Abuse Prevention Act by marketing these deceptive loan products over the phone. This allegation underscores, yet again, why it is so important for all institutions to understand TCPA and ensure proper compliance.

On that brief note, its time for you to receive my annual Super Bowl prediction, which as you all know, is considered tier-one capital for credit unions and their employees. I like the Seahawks to take on the Chiefs with the Seahawks winning in a dramatic last-second field goal by the score of 20-17. Peace out.

Entry filed under: Compliance, Legal Watch, Mortgage Lending. Tags: , , , , , , , , .

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Authored By:

Henry Meier, Esq., Senior Vice President, General Counsel, New York Credit Union Association.

The views Henry expresses are Henry’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Association. In addition, although Henry strives to give his readers useful and accurate information on a broad range of subjects, many of which involve legal disputes, his views are not a substitute for legal advise from retained counsel.

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