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Traffickers often use financial means, such as control over finances, access to money, or amount of debt, to coerce their victims. Traffickers also may accrue significant debt in their victims’ names or force them to incur the debt themselves, resulting in poor credit. USCRI believes that survivors should have access to services to help them recover from the trauma and other aftereffects that result from trafficking. One of the aftereffects is often the damage to a survivor’s credit history and their ability to obtain safe and stable housing, employment, and even professional licenses.

In December 2021, President Biden signed the National Defense Authorization Act into law, which included the Debt Bondage Repair Act (DBRA). The DBRA prohibits credit reporting agencies from reporting adverse credit information of a survivor of human trafficking that resulted from their being trafficked. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) first published a Proposed Rule on April 8, 2022, which sought to establish a method for victims of trafficking to submit documentation to consumer reporting agencies, including information identifying any adverse item of information that resulted from certain types of human trafficking and prohibit the consumer reporting agencies from furnishing a consumer report containing the adverse item(s) of information.

USCRI first started advocacy around this issue in April 2022 when it prepared and subsequently submitted comments to the CFPB regarding the Proposed Rule. Notably, USCRI recommended that the types of documentation required for relief under this rule be expanded.

“Section 1022.142(B)(6)(I): Expansion of trafficking documentation

Regarding the acknowledgement that documentation directly identifying a person as a victim of trafficking is scarce and that victims of trafficking are often not identified so may not have documentation determining they are a victim of trafficking, we request an expansion of the trafficking documentation to include: an OTIP Eligibility Letter as well as a Certification Letter mentioned in the Interim Final Rule (IFR); screening documentation done by an attorney that has advised a client to pursue a U visa or relief under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) for human trafficking concerns; documentation from law enforcement, health care providers, social service providers, and victim advocates that regularly conduct screenings and work with victims of human trafficking; and federal agency documentation used to investigate trafficking concerns and serve trafficking victims.”

The Final Rule published by the CFPB included USCRI’s recommendation and expanded the victim determination documentation to include documents from a Federal, State, Local, or Tribal Government, such as an OTIP Eligibility Letter or U Visa Certification. Additionally, the rule allows for documentation from a non-governmental agency, which are often service providers, or a member of a human trafficking task force that is authorized by a governmental agency to make determinations.

This rule provides survivors with an opportunity to clear adverse credit information and take steps towards greater financial stability and independence. To monitor implementation and ensure the greatest access to survivors, USCRI has been part of a small working group since the rule took effect on July 25, 2022. In addition to other advocacy efforts, USCRI has worked closely with the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST) to develop practice guidance for survivors, service providers, government entities, and law enforcement to navigate the DBRA process.[/vc_column_text]

The practice guidance is available in both in English and Spanish to best assist the populations we serve and increase the impact and reach of the rule.

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English
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If you would like more information about USCRI’s trafficking services, contact us at:
ASPIRE [email protected] for minors
USCRI TVAP [email protected] for adults
For any questions, please reach out to [email protected].

The post Practice Guidance on the Debt Bondage Repair Act appeared first on USCRI.

Source of original article: U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (refugees.org).
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