WASHINGTON, D.C. –
The coronavirus pandemic certainly has disrupted so many parts of finance-company operations.
But a group of seven industry organizations, including the American Financial Services Association, is urging federal lawmakers to make sure the pandemic impact doesn’t spread to one of the most important tools for underwriting and portfolio maintenance — credit reporting.
The organizations sent a letter this week to the top two members of the Senate Banking Committee to refrain from adding new credit reporting provisions that may negatively affect consumers as federal lawmakers consider potential financial provisions for the COVID-19 response legislation now being discussed on Capitol Hill.
The groups emphasized in the letter that the CARES Act established requirements that are “appropriately calibrated” to protect and preserve the long-standing benefits derived from credit reporting.
“Reliable credit reporting serves consumers well, enabling lower-cost and more expansive access to credit,” the organizations said in the letter.
Along with AFSA, the other organizations included in the letter were:
— American Bankers Association
— Consumer Bankers Association
— Housing Policy Council
— Independent Community Bankers of America
— Mortgage Bankers Association
— U.S. Chamber of Commerce
The organizations reiterated how important credit report are in all segments of financial services, not just auto financing.
“Financial institutions — including banks, credit unions, mortgage lenders, vehicle finance companies, installment lenders, payment card issuers, as well as the parties who support lending in the secondary market — depend on access to reliable historical information not only to originate, finance, insure, and invest in sustainable loans, but also to price those loans to make them as affordable as possible for qualified consumers,” the groups said.
“Following the reforms instituted in the wake of the Great Recession, public policy has supported the goal of ensuring that all lenders assess a borrower’s ability to repay a loan, an evaluation that depends on accurate information about the borrower’s debts and payment history,” they continued.
The groups address their letter specifically to Sen. Mike Crapo, chair of the Senate Banking Committee, and Sen. Sherrod Brown, the committee’s ranking member.
The organizations closed by projecting what pending legislative proposals to prohibit the reporting of credit information during the COVID-19 crisis might do to credit availability.
They wrote, to account for the uncertainty created by the unnecessary removal of credit information, loans would increase in cost, thereby reducing affordability. At the same time, the key institutions that help make credit available would pull back, again diminishing access to credit and increasing the cost of credit.
“These outcomes would be disruptive to the market and harm the financial well-being of consumers,” they added.