More than 130 individuals, representing half the companies in the American mortgage credit reporting industry and many resident screening companies, came together in November at the National Consumer Reporting Association’s (NCRA) Annual National conference in Albuquerque, N.M. The Conference marks the annual changing of the leadership at NCRA, as Maureen Devine of Strategic Information Resources (SIR) in Springfield, Mass. was elected 2014 NCRA president, Mike Brown of NCO Financial Systems is the new vice president/treasurer, and we welcome two new directors to the board, Julie Wink of Data Facts and Dean Wangsgard of NACM/Credit Info Systems. NCRA would like to extend our deepest appreciation to retiring directors Don Unger of Advantage Credit in Evergreen, Colo. for serving 10 years on the board, including as association president in 2012, and Daphne Large of Data Facts in Memphis, Tenn. for serving on the board for six years and as our 2013 president. During the awards presentation, Bill Bower of CIC received the 2013 President’s Award and Pam Marron of Bankers Mortgage recognized the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and NCRA for their work on getting a solution to the problems documenting short sale transactions in credit reporting.
Two packed days of meetings were on NCRA’s agenda, featuring 28 speakers (including four speakers from the Federal Trade Commission, the Federal Housing Finance Agency and the CFPB) providing the educational foundation for numerous subjects related to consumer reporting for the housing industry. Supporting a theme of “CRA Survival,” this year’s conference focus was on compliance and better business operations. Trans Union sponsored the first keynote speaker, award-winning business consultant Brad Hams, author of Ownership Thinking: How to End Entitlement and Create a Culture of Accountability, Purpose and Profit, whose presentation focused on getting rid of employee entitlement thinking, and LPS Flood sponsored the second keynote speaker, Tracy Spears, who broke down what motivates people to do what they do. Both speakers were well-received by the membership, with numerous comments that the information shared was “enlightening” and would help them become better leaders and, in turn, create a more productive workplace.
One of the most important sessions for the mortgage origination industry, with huge implications for anyone using consumer reports was the data security discussion panel that focused on the loopholes in data protection protocols often associated with third-party loan origination software (LOS) providers. Our panel was moderated by NCRA Past Director and President Marty Flynn, and consisted of Katherine Armstrong, senior counsel on the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) for the FTC; Shoaib Qazi, Experian’s North American Information security director; Scott Ledbetter, president of Property Solutions International Screening Division; Dave Vision of Data Vision; and Bowe Hoy of Sword & Shield Enterprise Security. The discussion focused on the problems associated with the software protections and data safety protocols of loan origination, property management systems and other software applications on a mortgage originators’ computer that may open access to hackers and identity thieves. A discussion was also held about the demand for mobile apps in the marketplace and the concerns about protecting data in that challenging mobile space. The FTC made it clear that they expect the data to be protected in all circumstances and pointed out the numerous $100,000-plus settlements they have collected from companies that have been involved in data breaches and been found to be using systems that did not meet FTC standards.
The feature networking event was sponsored by Meridian Link at the Anderson-Abruzzo International Balloon Museum. NCRA members got a chance to discover the history of ballooning, enjoy some live classic rock and dinning on a New Mexican feast. It was a perfect evening for many to have their first encounter with a hot air balloon as more than 120 people hopped in the basket and floated up in a tethered ride a bird’s eye view and an opportunity to experience how a hot air balloon operates.
There were two major announcements from the NCRA Conference this year. The first of which is the celebration of Jan Gerber’s 10th year with the NCRA. Jan maintains the NCRA office excellently and we thank her for 10 years of dedicated service. Second, NCRA is going to change the National Conference schedule from its current early-November timeslot to a late May/early June timeframe. NCRA’s Conference schedule will now rotate between Washington, D.C. and Las Vegas. Each non-election year (odd years like 2013) will be in Washington, D.C., as part of a legislative and regulatory session. The even years (beginning this spring as 2014 is a mid-term federal election year) will be held in Las Vegas.
Thank you to all of those who attended, exhibited and sponsored events at NCRA’s 2013 Conference, and we look forward to seeing them again under the bright lights of Vegas this spring.
Terry W. Clemans is executive director of the National Consumer Reporting Association (NCRA). He may be reached by phone at (630) 539-1525 or e-mail [email protected]