CFPB Takes a Hard Stance on ‘Name Only Matching’

Due to an advisory opinion recently released by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), all consumer reporting agencies must cease in providing any information on a credit report that is based only on a consumer’s first and last name and excludes any other personally identifiable information (PII) such as Social Security Number (SSN), address and Date of Birth.

The CFPB was established in 2011 to “protect consumers from unfair, deceptive, or abusive practices and take action against companies that break the law.” They provide a “single point of accountability for enforcing consumer financial laws (FCRA) and protecting consumers in the financial marketplace.”

FCRA section 607(b) provides that “whenever a Credit Reporting Agency prepares a consumer report it shall follow reasonable procedures to assure maximum possible accuracy of the information concerning the individual about whom the report relates.”   According to the Director of the CFPB, Rohit Chopra, “It has been the consistent view and continues to be the Bureau’s position that name only matching is not an accurate approach and is in fact a violation of the FCRA requirement.”

One type of data that this applies to, and is normally part of a credit report, is the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctions list. An OFAC check helps confirm if a person is a “potential threat to national security” and if they are allowed to do business in the United States. This list however is based solely on name matching and no other PII. Therefore, it’s accuracy can be questionable.

According to the Advisory Board, in the last census that has last name statistics available there were “2.4 million respondents with the last name of Smith, 1.9 million with the last name of Johnson, 1.6 million with the last name of Williams and over 1 million with the last names of Brown, Jones, Garcia, Miller, Davis, Rodriguez, Martinez and Hernandez.”  Using these statistics providing information based solely on first and last name could result in a lot of inaccuracies.

This directive falls in line with the removal of judgments and liens from credit reports which was initiated in July 2017. This was a result of a lawsuit between 30 state attorney generals and the three major credit bureaus, Experian, Trans Union and Equifax and culminated with the creation of the National Consumer Assistance Plan (NCAP). This requires the bureaus to increase the accuracy of credit reports. It included establishing parameters regarding the collection of public record data. Most judgments do not contain a person’s social security number or date of birth and therefore do not meet PII standards. By April 2018 all liens and judgments had been removed from all credit reports. The only public record seen today are Bankruptcies.

While OFAC does still exist and can still be accessed by individuals by going to, it will no longer be part of a credit report per the directive of the CFPB’s, advisory opinion.