Keeping Up With the CFPB

         The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) has been extremely busy in recent months in both regulatory and enforcement matters.  So how is an overworked compliance officer supposed to keep up with the latest activity so that the compliance officer’s institution can be protected and prepared if the CFPB comes knocking on its door?

         One of the best free resources which is readily available to compliance officers is the CFPB’s website.  The website includes information regarding regulations, administrative adjudication (enforcement actions), guidance, amicus briefs, supervision and examination manuals, the proposed strategic plan, the complaint database, and blog.

         The CFPB’s website dealing with regulations includes information regarding the CFPB’s regulatory agenda and its priorities for each year.  It also includes proposed rules, final rules, and inherited regulations.  The comments to proposed rules are readily available, also.

         The portion of the CFPB’s website dealing with administrative adjudication is very comprehensive and informative.  The site includes both the complaints and the consent orders in final actions.  A diligent compliance officer should carefully review the consent orders to ensure that his or her institution is complying with the practices required in the consent orders.  Many times, these consent orders provide advance warning for what both the CFPB and the prudential regulator will expect to find during an examination.

         The CFPB website contains all of its published guidance on the areas it regulates. The past guidance has been on such diverse subjects as credit card add-on products, mortgage servicing practices for service members, lending discrimination, loan originator compensation, whistle-blower actions, and confidentiality.  It is important that the compliance officer ensure that his or her institution comply with all of the CFPB’s guidance, where applicable.

         The CFPB solicits requests for filing amicus briefs.  The CFPB has focused on two primary areas in the past.  These include TILA rescission, and issues under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.  While all of the briefs have been filed in the Federal Circuit Courts thus far, it is anticipated that the CFPB will file an amicus brief in the lower courts or in the United States Supreme Court at the appropriate time.

         The CFPB’s Supervision and Examination Manual is included on the CFPB’s website. The CFPB periodically updates the manual.  A diligent compliance officer will be familiar with the manual, which is a blueprint for policies and procedures which the institution should have in place. 

         The CFPB’s proposed strategic plan for 2013 through 2018 provides substantial insight into the thinking of the CFPB’s leadership.  The CFPB’s first goal as set forth in the plan is “to prevent financial harm to consumers while promoting good practices that benefit them.”  The CFPB intends to achieve this goal through its regulations, supervision, and enforcement.  The CFPB has established measurable performance indicators, including the number of supervisions, enforcement actions, and Fair Lending actions which are opened and resolved. 

         One of the CFPB’s mandates is to establish a consumer complaint database.  This database is currently a work in process and only includes limited information with regard to credit card issuers at this time.  The database is expected to be greatly expanded and will include significant information regarding the complaints which it receives.  These complaints allow an institution to read the mind of its customers and to respond accordingly.  In addition, the CFPB’s database is an indication of what the CFPB and prudential regulators will expect an institution to have established in order to track and respond to consumer complaints which the institution receives.

         Finally, the CFPB’s website contains a blog on which the CFPB posts various commentaries, press releases, and other information.  The blog allows you to participate in a conversation with the CFPB about issues which the CFPB deems important at that time. 

         While there is a great deal of information on the website, it is important that a compliance officer routinely review the website for updates so that the officer may advise the institution and ensure the institution’s compliance with the various laws applicable to its operations.  The latest updates are oftentimes highlighted on the home page, allowing the compliance officer to quickly scan for the latest information.

 

These materials are presented for informational purposes only and are not intended to constitute legal advice.

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