AFNI SETTLES WITH CFPB OVER FAIR CREDIT REPORTING ACT VIOLATIONS
The AFNI CFPB Investigation
Fair Credit Reporting Act compliance just got a big win. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) settled with debt collector Afni Inc. This settlement highlighted the importance of compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act for companies who credit report to consumer reporting agencies.
The Afni Investigation
Afni is a collection agency who collects debt on behalf of telecommunications companies. Afni credit reports information about consumers the credit reporting agencies, such as Equifax, Experian and Trans Union. Afni credit reports using an automated system.
The CFBP launched an investigation into Afni after it received complaints from consumers between 2016 and 2018 about Afni’s credit reporting practices. Consumers accused Afni of credit reporting incorrect account information. Consumers also complained that Afni did so without taking steps to prevent inaccurate credit report information.
The Afni Investigation Findings
The Afni investigation conducted by the CFPB found numerous violations of the FCRA. The CFPB’s findings also exposed Afni’s recurring violations of the FCRA. According to the CFPB, Afni’s FCRA violations include:
- Recurring technical problems resulting in mass misreporting of credit information. Afni also knew or had reasonable cause to believe the information that it credit reported was in fact inaccurate.
- Afni failed to accurately report the date of first delinquency.
- Afni did not conduct reasonable investigations of disputes. Afni unfairly limited its investigations to a small set of documents. Under the FCRA, Afni is required to reach out to the original creditors and review all relevant information. It failed to do so.
- Afni failed to notify consumers when they deemed their disputes frivolous or irrelevant. Further, Afni did not have any policies to determine if a dispute was frivolous or irrelevant.
- Afni failed to respond to consumer disputes within the required 30-days required by the FCRA.
- Afni’s hands-off approach for responding to indirect disputes, lack of written policies governing its automated dispute resolution system, merging of FDCPA and FCRA duties violated the FCRA.
Afni Investigation Outcome
Afni is required to pay a $500,000 civil penalty. Afni is also required to implement to procedures to ensure FCRA compliance, including:
- Review samples of account information it credit reports to the consumer reporting agencies;
- Perform monthly reviews of for quality assurance of consumer disputes processed from consumer reporting agencies;
- Annual review and update of its policies to address deficiencies and ensure compliance with the FCRA; and
- Retain an independent consultant that specializes in FCRA compliance to audits FCRA compliance.
What does the Afni Consent Order Mean for Consumers?
The CFPB investigation and consent order places all debt collectors on notice that FCRA violations of the FCRA will not be tolerated by the CFPB. The CFPB is taking critical steps to protect consumers and ensure the accurate credit reporting by debt collectors for all consumers.
The Adkins Firm represents consumers who have errors on credit reports. Has Afni credit reported inaccurate information about you? Have you disputed an Afni account to the credit reporting agencies? Did the credit reporting agencies verify the inaccurate information?