CFPB Guidance: Consumer Reporting Agencies Must Eliminate ‘Junk Data’ 


When a credit report says that a child has a mortgage or that someone incurred a debt years before they were born, that’s obviously false “junk data,” according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). 

What’s more, consumer reporting companies have an obligation to screen for and eliminate data that is obviously false, CFPB said Thursday (Oct. 20) in a press release announcing its issuance of a guidance meant to ensure that such companies comply with consumer financial protection law. 

“When a credit report accuses someone of defaulting on a loan before they were born, this is nonsensical, junk data that should have never shown up in the first place,” CFPB Director Rohit Chopra said in the release. “Consumer reporting companies have a clear obligation to use better procedures to screen for and eliminate conflicting information, or information that cannot be true.” 

As part of their legal requirement to follow reasonable procedures to assure that the information they collect and report is accurate, consumer reporting companies must detect and remove inconsistent account information and information that cannot be accurate, CFPB said in the release. 

For example, if a credit report shows a delinquency that predates the opening of the account, that’s inconsistent account information. If a credit report includes a tradeline with a date that predates the consumer’s date of birth, that’s information that cannot be accurate, the release stated. 

CFPB reported in April that 70% of the complaints it had received over the previous year were about credit or consumer reporting issues. 

Read more: 70% of Complaints Filed With the CFPB Are About Credit or Consumer Reporting 

The agency said in Thursday’s press release: “Complaints about ‘incorrect information on your report’ have represented the largest share of credit or consumer reporting complaints submitted to the CFPB for at least the last six years, and the CFPB receives more complaints about credit reporting than any other subject.”