June 14: Recent CFPB Activities

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) is responsible for consumer protection in the financial sector. CFPB’s jurisdiction includes credit unions,  banks, securities firms, payday lenders, mortgage-servicing operations, foreclosure relief services, debt collectors, and other financial companies operating in the United States. NASCUS closely monitors CFPB developments and responds to requests for comments on rules impacting the credit union system.


CFPB Issues Proposed Rule and Fast Facts on Medical Information in Consumer Reports

Today, the CFPB issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) related to consumer reporting of medical information.  The CFPB also released a Fast Facts summary of the NPRM.

The proposal would remove an existing Regulation V exception to the Fair Credit Reporting Act’s limitation on a creditor’s use of medical debt information, and it would amend existing exceptions for use of other medical information related to credit eligibility determinations.  The proposed rule would also generally prohibit consumer reporting agencies from including medical debt information in consumer reports to creditors making credit determinations.

You can access the NPRM and Fast Facts here: www.consumerfinance.gov/compliance/compliance-resources/other-applicable-requirements/fair-credit-reporting-act/.

You can sign up to receive updates on consumer reporting rules and guidance here: www.consumerfinance.gov/compliance/compliance-resources/signup/.


CFPB Proposes to Ban Medical Bills from Credit Reports

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) today proposed a rule that would remove medical bills from most credit reports, increase privacy protections, help to increase credit scores and loan approvals, and prevent debt collectors from using the credit reporting system to coerce people to pay. The proposal would stop credit reporting companies from sharing medical debts with lenders and prohibit lenders from making lending decisions based on medical information. The proposed rule is part of the CFPB’s efforts to address the burden of medical debt and coercive credit reporting practices.

“The CFPB is seeking to end the senseless practice of weaponizing the credit reporting system to coerce patients into paying medical bills that they do not owe,” said CFPB Director Rohit Chopra. “Medical bills on credit reports too often are inaccurate and have little to no predictive value when it comes to repaying other loans.”

In 2003, Congress restricted lenders from obtaining or using medical information, including information about debts, through the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act. However, federal agencies subsequently issued a special regulatory exception to allow creditors to use medical debts in their credit decisions.

The CFPB is proposing to close the regulatory loophole that has kept vast amounts of medical debt information in the credit reporting system. The proposed rule would help ensure that medical information does not unjustly damage credit scores, and would help keep debt collectors from coercing payments for inaccurate or false medical bills.

The CFPB’s research reveals that a medical bill on a person’s credit report is not a good predicter of whether they will repay a loan. In fact, the CFPB’s analysis shows that medical debts penalize consumers by making underwriting decisions less accurate and leading to thousands of denied applications on mortgages that consumers would repay. Since these are loans people will repay, the CFPB expects lenders will also benefit from improved underwriting and increased volume of safe loan approvals. In terms of mortgages, the CFPB expects the proposed rule would lead to the approval of approximately 22,000 additional, safe mortgages every year.

In December 2014, the CFPB released a report  showing that medical debts provide less predictive value to lenders than other debts on credit reports. Then in March 2022, the CFPB released a report estimating that medical bills made up $88 billion of reported debts on credit reports. In that report, the CFPB announced that it would assess whether credit reports should include data on unpaid medical bills. Read more