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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

CFPB releases comment letter on FTC enforcement action

Federal Issues CFPB FTC Credit Reporting Agency Enforcement FCRA Small Business

Federal Issues

On February 18, the CFPB released a comment letter in response to the FTC’s request for comments on its proposed order with a business credit reporting agency alleging that the respondent engaged in deceptive and unfair practices. (Covered by InfoBytes here). In commending the FTC, the CFPB noted that “there are troubling conflicts of interest when the purveyor of credit reports also sells ancillary services.” The CFPB also discussed that the FCRA “may not have contemplated the serious challenges that small businesses face with respect to business credit reports and associated services such as the provision of credit scores,” and that small business “may not benefit” from the FCRA. The Bureau noted that “[b]usiness credit reporting companies should not be able to unfairly harm a small business’s and their owner’s or operator’s financing opportunities.” In supporting “greater remedial authorities for the FTC to be more in line with other civil law enforcement agencies,” the comment letter argued that “[s]tronger authorities for the FTC may help to remediate this full range of harms,” and that the Bureau “stands ready to work with the FTC and other federal and state law enforcement partners to examine whether there are other unlawful practices related to small business credit reporting by other providers.” According to the CFPB, the Bureau will be working with the FTC “to ensure that small businesses are treated fairly when it comes to accessing loans.” The CFPB also noted that it is “working on a rule to shine more light on small business lending, by gathering more data about whether and how small businesses are able to access credit,” and will provide regulators the opportunity “to understand the landscape of credit availability to small businesses that for too long have had to rely on opaque business credit reporting agencies as gatekeepers of financing,” according to the comment letter.