(Nov. 5, 2021) A consumer reporting agency that uses “name-only” matching procedures is not using reasonable procedures mandated under federal consumer protection laws, the CFPB said this week.
In an “advisory opinion,” the bureau said that matching information to a particular consumer who is the subject of a consumer report based solely on whether the consumer’s first and last names are identical or similar to the names associated with the information falls outside of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). The agency termed the practice as “inadequate matching procedures to match information to consumers.”
CFPB said it issued the advisory opinion to remind consumer reporting agencies that their matching practices must comply with their FCRA obligation to ”follow reasonable procedures to assure maximum possible accuracy.”
The advisory opinion notes that consumer complaints CFPB has received – particularly about “incorrect information on your report” – reflect “significant consumer concern” about inaccuracies in consumer reports. Last year, the bureau said, companies provided responses to more than 191,000 such complaints, which represents approximately 68% of credit or consumer reporting complaints responded to by companies that year.14
“Name-only matching,” the bureau asserted, is particularly likely to lead to inaccuracies in consumer reports. “Name-only matching occurs when a consumer reporting agency uses only first and last name to determine whether a particular item of information relates to a particular consumer, without using other personally identifying information such as address, date of birth, or Social Security number,” CFPB said.
The opinion asserts that matching information to a consumer who is the subject of a consumer report by name alone creates “significant accuracy concerns” because most names are shared with other consumers and, in some cases, with thousands of other consumers. “In preparing consumer reports, it is not a reasonable procedure to assure maximum possible accuracy to use insufficient identifiers to match information to the consumer who is the subject of the report,” the agency opined.