Commonwealth of Virginia
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Charlotte Gomer, Press Secretary
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ATTORNEY GENERAL HERRING CALLS ON CFPB TO PROTECT CONSUMERS' CREDIT DURING COVID19 PANDEMIC
RICHMOND (April 13, 2020) – Attorney General Herring has joined a coalition of 23 attorneys general to demand the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) enforce the CARES Act and require credit reporting agencies to follow the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) during the COVID19 crisis. The CFPB's recent announcement that they would not enforce the law would leave consumers at the mercy of unresponsive credit agencies at a critical time.
Attorney General Herring and his colleagues wrote the letter in response to an announcement by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that: (1) the CFPB would not enforce an amendment to the Fair Credit Reporting Act that requires lenders to report as current any loans that are affected by a COVID19-related accommodation; and (2) the CFPB would not take action against consumer reporting agencies that violate the FCRA's 30-day deadline to investigate consumer disputes.
"Under the Trump Administration, the CFPB has continuously shirked its responsibilities to protect consumers and this decision to not enforce the CARES Act is just another example of that,” said Attorney General Herring. "The COVID19 pandemic has begun to take a significant economic toll on Virginians and tens of thousands have already filed unemployment claims because of business closures. Protecting consumers' credit now during this crisis is one way that we can ensure that they will be able to reenter the economy when this is all over.”
As the attorneys general say in the letter "In addition to its enormous health toll, the COVID19 global pandemic is causing significant economic disruption as well. Businesses are closed and millions of workers have already filed claims for unemployment compensation. If we hope to have a quick economic recovery when this crisis is over, American consumers must be fully equipped to reenter the market. The status of Americans' credit reports will be vital to ensuring strong participation in the economy. The importance of protecting consumers' credit is even greater during this crisis.”
The Attorneys General outlined their opposition to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's announcement through three rebuttals:
- The CFPB's announcement that it will not enforce the CARES Act's requirements could discourage consumers from taking advantage of the accommodations that lenders are required to offer under the CARES Act or those that they are offering voluntarily;
- The CFPB's announcement it will not require consumer reporting agencies to investigate consumer disputes within 30 days puts consumers at risk;
- Consumer reporting agencies must be vigilant about accurately reporting consumer credit, which can only be done by following the requirements established by the FCRA as amended by the CARES Act.
Following Governor Northam's state of emergency declaration, Attorney General Herring has taken many actions to help Virginians navigate the uncertainty surrounding the COVID19 pandemic. Attorney General Herring successfully petitioned the SCC to put a hold on all utility disconnections and just yesterday the SCC extended that freeze and suspended all late fees for the duration of the state of emergency in response to a second request from Attorney General Herring. He and his Consumer Protection Section have been reviewing price gouging complaints from around the Commonwealth and investigating any potential violations and pursuing violators, including sending warning letters to dozens of businesses about which Virginians have complained. Attorney General Herring has also issued numerous warnings urging Virginians to be wary of COVID19 related scams as well as scams related to the federal stimulus package. At the end of March, Attorney General Herring also issued an advisory opinion outlining the authority of public bodies, including local governments, to conduct meetings and critical public business while meeting social distancing needs and important transparency and accountability obligations.
Additionally, Attorney General Herring sent letters to Amazon, Facebook, Craigslist, Ebay, and Walmart urging them to more rigorously monitor price gouging practices by online sellers who are using their services. Attorney General Herring has also urged the Trump Administration to take many different actions to protect Virginians during this time including utilize the Defense Production Act to immediately prioritize the production of personal protective equipment and ventilators, provide federal student loan borrowers with crucial emergency protections, suspend Department of Veterans Affairs deadlines and debt collection activities, instate special enrollment periods on HealthCare.gov, and others.
Joining Attorney General Herring in sending the letter to the CFPB are the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Washington D.C., Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.
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