As reports continue to arrive stemming from the damage caused by Hurricane Harvey in Texas and elsewhere along the Gulf Coast, Ignite Consulting Partners gave buy-here, pay-here dealers and other auto finance providers three reminders associated with credit reporting for consumers residing in locations declared as disaster areas.
Chief optimization officer Richard Hudson acknowledged that some BHPH operators and other data furnishers are unaware, but the consumer reporting agencies (CRA) have included guidance to institutions on how to report accounts in these circumstances.
“It is important for data furnishers to understand what they can do to help mitigate negative information on their consumers that have been impacted by natural disasters,” Hudson said in a message sent to BHPH Report. “The Credit Reporting Resource Guide gives specific guidance in their frequently asked questions and answers section on how to report trade-lines for consumers effected in this way.”
Hudson pointed out there are three ways operators can report on open accounts, including:
1. Report the Special Comment AW to indicate the account is affected by a natural disaster.
2. Report the special comment the same as option 1 and change the account status to 11.
3. If you decide to defer payments for the customer, you can report the account as deferred and change the special status to AW.
Hudson also emphasized there is a difference in the way operators need to report derogatory accounts.
“Before you make these or any related changes, it is important that you engage an expert in this area who can ensure you have updated all of the required fields correctly,” Hudson said. “You should reach out to your CRA or a firm like Ignite Consulting Partners for further guidance.
“By making these and other required changes, data furnishers will help protect their customers,” he continued. “When the consumer is able to pay again, the furnisher simply removes the comment, and the account will begin to report normally again.
“Many consumers are suffering the worst catastrophe of their lives right now. It’s important for businesses to do everything they can to get our part right,” Hudson went on to say.
Whether or not your operation is being impacted by Hurricane Harvey, Hudson discussed the intricacies of credit reporting — including the reporting of accurate information and properly responding to disputes — during a recent webinar hosted by Ignite Consulting Partners. Details about that session can be found here.