WASHINGTON — The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced Thursday that it had hit Clarity Services, a Florida-based consumer credit reporting company, with an $8 million fine over Fair Credit Reporting Act violations.
"Clarity and its owner mishandled important consumer information and failed to take appropriate action to investigate consumer disputes," said CFPB Director Richard Cordray in a press release. "Today, we are holding them accountable for cleaning up the way they do business."
The CFPB accused Clarity, which creates credit report packages for payday lenders and other subprime financial services companies, of pulling information on consumers' financial background without a permissible purpose. In one instance, the company allegedly obtained 190,000 consumer reports — not to present to a potential lender, but in order to create a marketing presentation. These illegal inquiries were then marked on consumers' credit files, according to the CFPB.
The agency also accused Clarity of failing to investigate consumer disputes related to identity theft or unreliable information contained in their credit reports unless consumers could produce documents to prove their case.
In addition to the fine, the CFPB has ordered Clarity to end these practices and implement new policies and safeguards to ensure that consumers' disputes are investigated and that the credit reports are obtained for permissible purposes.
Clarity confirmed that it had accepted the CFPB's terms, but it denied the accusations.
"While we do not agree with the CFPB's allegations, the settlement allows Clarity Services to move beyond this distraction," Tim Ranney, Clarity's chief executive, said in a Thursday press release.