E-OSCAR is the system that allows data furnishers to electronically communicate with credit reporting agencies throughout the dispute process. Once a dispute is entered into the automated system at the credit-reporting agency, the data furnisher is automatically notified of the dispute through their e-OSCAR online communication system.
Data furnishers are provided the three-digit dispute code along with details about the consumer. They respond to all disputes directly in the online system, and the data furnishers have thirty days to respond or the item is automatically deleted.
The online system appears to be an efficient way to transfer information and to communicate; however, due to minimal information be transmitted, it is nearly impossible to understand the full picture of the consumer’s dispute.
Now, with recent enhancements (Batch Interface) to e-OSCAR, the process has become even more transparently non-compliant with the FCRA.
E-OSCAR offers data furnishers the ability to update via a Batch Interface, which facilitates the processing of large volumes of consumer disputes in an automated electronic format. This enables the data furnishers to further automate the process by establishing automatic responses to the consumer disputes.
For example, a reporting agency may choose to auto-populate the response fields based on certain criteria, and then the staff has the option to review each one manually prior to submission. The problem with this interface is that the reporting agencies leave the final review up to the individual clerk.
There is usually no requirement to even review the consumer dispute, although this is clearly required by law. As most employees are overworked and underpaid, most of the consumer disputes will probably not be reviewed by an actual live person. Once again, this benefits the data furnishers and credit bureaus alike.
The Batch Interface itself is not a violation of the FCRA, as data furnishers are free to do with the information what they wish, without fear of repercussions. When the information is not reviewed, but automated, there is a clear violation of the FCRA.
In other words, they’re just providing the tools to break the law. Despite this disclaimer, there’s really no legally compliant reason to have the Batch Interface in the first place. The FCRA mandates each dispute be investigated, but then the reporting agencies empower the data furnishers with tools to avoid having to do an actual investigation.
This is a distribution of responsibility, where everyone involved gets to avoid the blame, and it’s transparently unfair to the little guy.