CFPB Targets Payment Provision Practices of Credit Card Issuers – Financial Services

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On May 25, 2022, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced on its blog that he had letters sent to the chief executives of six major credit card issuers for information about their practice of withholding actual monthly payment amounts made by their customers from reporting to national consumer reporting agencies (CRA). The bureau’s latest investigation comes against the backdrop of a 2020 quarterly consumer trends reportwhich examined how often lenders provide actual payment information to credit rating agencies and found a significant drop in actual payment history reporting for credit card companies.

2020 CFPB Report on Remittance of Payment Amounts

In 2020, the CFPB conducted a study of the prevalence of information on the actual amount of payments reported to credit rating agencies over an eight-year period. The research showed a significant drop in actual payment provision for credit card accounts between 2012 and 2020 – with only 40% of credit card business lines containing actual payment data in 2020. In contrast, the study revealed a steady increase in the provision of actual payment for installment loans. products (including mortgages, car loans and student loans) over the same period.

According to the CFPB, half of the largest credit card issuers have chosen to stop providing actual payment amount data to prevent competitors from using “business data to identify and poach their most profitable customers.” The CFPB also observed that major issuers suspended providing the actual payment amount during the same quarter in 2014. The report concluded that issuers’ decision to withhold actual payment data could have access implications. credit consumers.

The latest CFPB survey

The letters sent to the six major credit card issuers ask the following questions:

  • If the issuer has regularly and consistently provided actual payment data since 2012 but no longer does so, or if the issuer has never regularly or consistently provided actual payment data, what is the rationale for this change or this practice ?

  • If the issuer regularly and consistently provides real payment data for some card account products, but not all, what is the rationale for this practice?

  • Are there physical impediments that would prevent credit card issuers from reporting actual payment amounts to credit rating agencies?

  • Does the issuer intend to start providing data on the actual amount of the payment, and if so, how quickly, consistently and accurately could it provide this data?

The letters and blog post cite the bureau’s 2020 study and warn that deleting information about the actual payment amount — which the CFPB says issuers keep internally for account management and marketing – can leave consumers with thinner credit reports, which can in turn hinder their ability to access credit at competitive rates.

Knowledge

  • This latest investigation is another example of the bureau’s focus on credit reporting issues as well as industry practices that may impede market competition – which have come under scrutiny. scrutiny since director Rohit Chopra took over the office. More recently, the The CFPB has announced the opening of a new Office of Competition and Innovation to promote fair competition and reduce barriers preventing consumers from switching accounts and suppliers, among other mandates.

  • The CFPB’s investigation into credit card issuers’ supply practices is neither a formal investigation nor a request for oversight, and response to its letters is voluntary. The responses received by the bureau could also inform future regulations to require credit card issuers, and vendors more broadly, to report actual payments made by borrowers to their credit accounts. This latest initiative could also presage future CFPB efforts to identify and attempt to correct inconsistencies in credit reporting practices across industries.

  • We expect the CFPB to continue to pay close attention to the practices of credit card companies more generally and their impact on competition and consumers. In March, the CFPB published a study criticizing late fees charged by credit card issuers. The study was accompanied by a Press release suggesting that the bureau could revise the Regulation Z safe harbor amounts to impose late fees.1 The bureau’s most recent oversight highlights also focused on issuer account management and credit reporting practices, with a focus on investigating consumer reporting disputes and notification issues.

  • Additionally – and just a day after announcing its investigation into the withholding of payment information by credit card issuers when reporting – the The CFPB published a blog post informing consumers of their right, after submitting a credit report dispute with a supplier, to receive a clear statement of the results. The blog post reminds all providers of the information such notices must include and specifically calls on credit card providers to “send unclear notices to consumers upon completion of dispute investigations.”

Footnote

1. 12 CFR § 1026.52(b)(1)(ii).

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide on the subject. Specialist advice should be sought regarding your particular situation.

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