Credit complaints now under CFPB’s purview

In the past, the federal watchdog agency in charge of helping to protect consumers' finances has handled a number of different types of borrower complaints, but is now expanding that authority even further.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will begin accepting complaints about issues related to Americans' credit reports, effective immediately, according to a report from the agency. It believes this is a crucial step in helping to increase safeguards for borrowers' finances because of the way in which a credit report can have a massive effect on all aspects of a person's budgeting and credit background, including their ability to qualify for new lines of credit and what that financing ultimately costs them.

Situations in which consumers can register a complaint
While many Americans may have questions about the information listed on their credit reports, the CFPB will not accept just any type of complaint, the report said. Specifically, the agency is currently set up to deal with gripes related to incorrect data being listed on their file, and investigations being carried out by the credit monitoring bureau that issued the document.

Further, they can also lodge complaints about their credit report being used improperly, or their inability to get a copy of either that document or their credit score, the report said. They may also be able to report issues they find when dealing with credit monitoring or identity protection services.

This is important not only because of how it affects consumers' eligibility for credit, and the affordability of the financing they receive, but also because other entities, including employers, landlords, cellphone service providers, and utility services all use a credit report to vet potential hires, tenants, or customers, the report said.

A word of caution
However, the CFPB also notes that it's important for consumers to try to solve these disputes with the credit reporting companies prior to lodging an official complaint with the agency, the report said. By employing the services of a credit repair law firm, these issues may be corrected. Tthe federal government has a number of safety nets in place to ensure that credit reporting is as accurate as possible.

However, in some cases, consumers may still find themselves dissatisfied even after the completion of the formal dispute process, and in these cases, it may be time to contact the CFPB to file a complaint, the report said. These cases are crucial not only to help the agency solve whatever issues an individual consumer may have when dealing with credit reporting companies, but also for it to get a general sense of the kind of trends experienced across the entire credit monitoring industry.

"Every complaint we receive helps us understand the challenges facing consumers, and they inform and shape our priorities," wrote Scott Pluta, assistant director for the Office of Consumer Response at the CFPB. "Reading your complaints about credit reporting will complement work we have already started in this area, including a conducting a study comparing credit scores sold to creditors and those sold to consumers and beginning to supervise consumer reporting agencies."

Other areas in which the CFPB has helped
Of course, with its central goal being consumer protection, the agency has made several significant steps toward increasing safeguards across the credit and lending industries, the report said. For instance, it began accepting consumer complaints about credit cards in July 2011, and has since branched out to take those related to mortgages, bank accounts and other services, private student loans, auto financing and other types of consumer credit.

By putting these protections for consumers into place, the agency hopes that it will create a safer lending environment for all Americans, so that they can have access to the best possible deals, which are presented to them in the clearest manner possible, the report said. By increasing these safeguards for consumers, the hope is that the agency can head the most common problems off at the pass, implementing rules and regulations that stamp out the issues so that they can no longer adversely affect borrowers.

Of course, when consumers want to protect the healthy status of their credit report, the most important step they can take involves actually ordering a copy of it. Doing so will allow them to check the document over closely for any unfair markings that may be dragging their credit rating down, which in turn can lead to their being denied access to credit or other services for which they should by rights be eligible. Fortunately, working with a credit repair law firm may help to clear up these issues and put borrowers back on the right track.