Following a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau ("CFPB") investigation into its credit reporting procedures, telecommunications debt collector Afni, Inc. agreed Thursday to implement additional safeguards against inaccurate reporting and pay a $500,000 civil penalty.
The CFPB's investigation found that Afni had violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act ("FCRA") in several ways. First, Afni had negligently furnished inaccurate and incomplete information to credit reporting companies. Second, Afni failed to conduct reasonable and timely investigations into disputed accounts, conflating FCRA and Fair Debt Collection Practices Act requirements and violating CFPB Regulation V. It also did not formally determine that the disputes did not require investigation or provide consumers notice. Third, Afni failed to establish sufficient procedural safeguards against such errors. Additionally, the CFPB found that Afni, by violating the FCRA, had also violated the Consumer Financial Protection Act.
Under the consent order, Afni agreed to review samples of the account information it supplies to credit reporting agencies for accuracy and proper file conversion, as well as review its handling of consumer disputes for FCRA compliance, on a monthly basis. It must also update its policies to address deficiencies and ensure compliance annually. The consent order also requires Afni to retain an independent consultant to independently review Afni's credit reporting policies and procedures. The consultant will provide a report to Afni's compliance committee, which will review it and develop any necessary compliance plans before submitting the report to the CFPB regional director. As an additional deterrent to noncompliance, Afni will pay $500,000 to the CFPB as a civil money penalty.
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