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What You Should Know When Using Consumer Access℠

July 17, 2018

The NMLS Consumer Access website, a treasure trove of relevant and real-time information, could benefit many businesses in the industry if it was perhaps called the "All-Inclusive-Everyone-Is-Welcome-Mortgage-Access" website! However, under the 2008 Secure and Fair Enforcement for Mortgage Licensing Act, the free service is maintained, as required, by the State Regulatory Registry for the consumer audience ONLY.

Here is where my story begins.

I once paid a visit to a long time mortgage client and soon after arriving, I noticed there was a young woman sitting at her desk with a stack of papers a mile high. That's only a slight exaggeration. I approached her with caution and she politely explained her role in the organization. Apparently, her full-time job was to validate all loan files that require a licensed MLO and related entity are authorized to do business in the state of origination, as well as a number of other checks to ensure the company was maintaining full compliance.

Let it be known that I've never personally had to validate license information, but I was certain there had to be a better way. I understood that the Consumer AccessSM site was for consumer use, but I felt compelled to learn more about any potential consequences of using the site for other purposes. Based on a conversation with my client that day, it seemed to be a common challenge in the mortgage business and became one that I wanted to immediately solve.

Throughout my fact-finding mission, I gathered a snapshot of what I found to be described as authorized and unauthorized use of the site.

Authorized use:

In addition to the full list of terms, the Consumer Access site is made available to assist you or your organization in determining whether to conduct or continue conducting business with NMLS-registered persons or companies. The Consumer Access Terms of Use is clear that any other business use of the site is strictly prohibited. 

In this situation, what the woman was doing correctly followed NMLS terms, however the process is still quite cumbersome and prone to error. I reached out to other clients to verify this was indeed a problem and I soon learned that the site was being accessed for a number of unauthorized uses. 

Unauthorized use: 

The unauthorized uses are many, so I've narrowed it down to the following:

  1. Aggregation of data for commercial purposes is prohibited.
  2. Information may not be used to develop a database to be sold, licensed or marketed to in any way. 
  3. Information provided through Consumer Access may not be used for purposes of recruiting registered persons or companies.
  4. Any use outside of those stated in the Terms of Use require written authorization.  

You should fully understand both the authorized and unauthorized use cases when leveraging the Consumer Access portal. The consequences may result in a revocation of access, or more severe actions including criminal and civil penalties.  

Solving a problem. 

I spent much of the week following my visit obsessing about a better way to stop the paper pile madness. Optimal Blue is one of a few authorized NMLS partnerships, so our team of expert developers came up with what we call the NMLS Verification API. We were able to achieve our goal of helping clients fulfill loan file compliance demands and save countless hours and labor costs with automation. In seconds, the API service returns over 35 real-time data points, including:

ICON-check-small2 Status on any NMLS licensed entity
ICON-check-small2 Status on any loan officer
ICON-check-small2 Verification of the originating entity and the loan officer's authorization to do business
ICON-check-small2 Verification that the entity and loan officer are in good standing throughout the loan process
ICON-check-small2 Verification of the loan officer's relationship to the employing mortgage company
ICON-check-small2 Accurate and valid information delivered from the API, each and every time

If you rely on the NMLS Consumer Access Site for compliance reconciliation or purposes outside the intended use, contact us today to learn more. 

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