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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

Warren and Brown question CFPB on auto lending policies

Federal Issues CFPB Senate Banking Committee Auto Finance Abusive

Federal Issues

On March 12, Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) sent a letter to CFPB Director Kathy Kraninger expressing concerns over the Bureau’s oversight of the auto lending market. The Senators contend that the Bureau has not taken any auto lending enforcement actions since Kraninger became director, despite reports expressing concern with the volume of outstanding auto debt and “auto lenders [] engaging in predatory practices and cutting back safeguards.” The Senators were “particularly concerned with the targeting of subprime consumers by non-bank lenders through indirect financing.” The letter seeks information regarding the Bureau’s plans to “fulfill its mission of stopping abusive practices and protecting consumers from this emerging threat,” including (i) whether the Bureau believes that the “incentive structure” between dealers and lenders in indirect financing can create risks for consumers; (ii) whether the Bureau believes lenders are intentionally charging higher rates because of arrangements with auto dealers; (iii) the types of actions the Bureau would take when it identifies a problematic relationship between a lender and a dealer; and (iv) a list of past enforcement actions by the Bureau against lenders who incentivized dealers to offer consumers a larger loan than the market value of the vehicle. In addition, the letter seeks information on the ways that the Bureau evaluates lender underwriting practices and whether it maintains a database with average LTV ratios, length of loan terms, and related data points for each lender. Finally, the Senators asked for clarifications on how the Bureau would evaluate whether auto lenders are engaging in abusive practices in light of its revised “abusiveness” standard and whether the Bureau has identified fair lending concerns with auto lenders. The letter requests that the Bureau respond to the questions by March 26.

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