Thursday, November 19, 2020
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Announces Settlement with Debt Collector for Credit Reporting Violation
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (Bureau) today announced a settlement with Afni, Inc. (Afni) to address its violations in providing information to consumer reporting agencies (CRAs). Afni is a non-bank Illinois-based debt collector that specializes in collecting debt on behalf of telecommunications companies and furnishes information to consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) about consumers’ credit. The consent order requires Afni to take certain steps to prevent future violations and imposes a $500,000 civil money penalty.
The Bureau found that Afni furnished information to CRAs that it knew or had reasonable cause to believe was inaccurate and failed to report to CRAs an appropriate date of first delinquency on certain accounts. The Bureau also found that Afni failed to conduct reasonable investigations of disputes made by consumers both to Afni and to CRAs about furnished information and failed to conduct investigations of disputes made to Afni in a timely manner. In addition, the Bureau found that Anfi failed to send required notices to consumers about the results of such investigations and failed to establish, implement, and update its policies and procedures regarding its furnishing of consumer information to CRAs. Afni’s conduct violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and its implementing rule, Regulation V and, by engaging in these violations of the FCRA and Regulation V, Afni violated the Consumer Financial Protection Act.
Under the terms of the consent order, Afni must take certain steps to improve and ensure the accuracy of its furnishing of consumer information to CRAs and its policies and procedures relating to credit reporting and dispute investigation. These required steps include conducting monthly reviews of account information to assess the accuracy and integrity of information it furnishes. Afni must also conduct monthly reviews of consumer disputes and responses to assess whether its handling of consumer disputes complies with the FCRA, Regulation V, and its own policies and procedures. The consent order also requires Afni to retain an independent consultant to conduct a review of Afni’s activities, policies, and procedures relating to furnishing information and credit reporting to ensure that its current policies, practices, and procedures regarding furnishing of consumer information to CRAs comply with the FCRA and Regulation V.