CDIA sent a letter to the FTC and CFPB asking them to support an emergency interim final rule for public records reinvestigations affected by court closures and delays. During the COVID-19 pandemic, court closures and lack of remote electronic access to court records in several states have burdened consumer applicants, employers, housing providers, and the consumer reporting entities that serve them. Several states have suspended statutory public records disclosure deadlines and suspended certain public record request fulfillment processes. State court closures have substantially delayed or cut off altogether responses to background check inquiries, often due to lack of court staffing, substantial workload, inaccessibility to necessary documents. Experienced industry monitors of court response times report that court turnaround times for public records fulfillment even now, several weeks after the onset of the pandemic, remain historically slow or stopped altogether in hundreds of affected counties across the U.S.
An emergency interim final rule provides narrowly targeted relief to promote accurate dispute resolution to benefit consumers, users, and CRAs facing closed and delayed public records jurisdictions. Under the proposal, statutory FCRA reinvestigation deadlines under 15 U.S.C § 1681i would be tolled for background checks involving jurisdictions where public records are not reasonably available, until such time as the records became available. This targeted flexibility would ensure that disputed information could be accurately addressed as soon as the relevant public records became available again. Under the emergency interim rule, users and consumers alike would have confidence that the accuracy and currency of any disputed public record information, such as criminal history, was fully investigated.
Eric J. Ellman is Senior Vice President for Public Policy and Legal Affairs at the Consumer Data Industry Association (CDIA) in Washington, DC. He also served for eight months as Interim President and CEO of the Association. More