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DFPI modifies proposed regulations for complaints and inquiries under the CCFPL

State Issues State Regulators California DFPI CCFPL Consumer Complaints Consumer Protection Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Consumer Finance

State Issues

On December 22, the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (DFPI) released modifications to proposed regulations for implementing and interpreting certain sections of the California Consumer Financial Protection Law (CCFPL) related to consumer complaints and inquiries. As previously covered by InfoBytes, DFPI issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) last May to implement Section 90008 subdivisions (a) and (b) of the CCFPL, which authorize DFPI to promulgate rules establishing reasonable procedures for covered persons to provide timely responses to consumers and DFPI concerning consumer complaints and inquiries, as well as subdivision (d)(2)(D), which “permits covered persons to withhold nonpublic or confidential information, including confidential supervisory information, in response to a consumer request to the covered person for information regarding a consumer financial product or service.”

After considering comments received on the NPRM, changes proposed by the DFPI include the following:

  • Amended definitions. The proposed regulations will not apply to, in addition to consumer reporting agencies and student loan servicers, a person or entity already exempt from the CCFPL under Section 90002. The definition of “complaint” is amended to include “an oral or written expression of dissatisfaction from a complainant regarding a specific issue or problem with a financial product or service.” Additionally, “complainant” is amended to also provide that a consumer must have been a resident of California at the time of the act, omission, decision, condition, or policy giving rise to the complaint. The proposed regulations also outline several categories that are not included in the definition of “complaint” or “inquiry.”
  • Complaint procedure updates. The proposed regulations outline requirements for covered persons related to consumer disclosures and written communications covering the complaint process. The proposed regulations also require covered persons to accept all complaints, whether written or oral, provided the complaint includes a reason for filing the complaint and sufficient information to identify the complainant.
  • Restrictions. Covered persons shall not (i) “[r]equest personal identifying information beyond what is reasonably necessary to identify the complainant and to send correspondence”; (ii) “[r]equest financial information unrelated to the specific complaint of the consumer:” or (iii) impose a time limit for filing a complaint that is shorter than one year from the time the complainant discovers the act, omission, decision, condition, or policy that is the subject of the complaint (if a time limit is imposed it must be stated in the required consumer disclosures).
  • Complaint acknowledgements. For every complaint received, covered persons must send the complainant a written acknowledgement of receipt that is postmarked or otherwise shows that acknowledgement was sent within five business days after receiving the complaint. Within 15 business days after receiving a complaint, a covered person must provide a final decision on all issues. If additional time is required, a covered person must provide the complainant with a written update within three business days after the initial 15-business day period ends.
  • Inquiry response requirements. Covered persons are required to develop and implement written policies and procedures to implement the regulations’ inquiry requirements, and must also respond to all issues raised by an inquiry within 10 business days. Covered persons must retain copies of all written inquiries and written responses for at least three years from the time the written response was issued.
  • Reporting requirements. Covered persons must submit an annual complaint report to DFPI for each financial product or service offered or provided that will be made available to the public with limited exceptions. Each report shall include information regarding all complaints received by the covered person during the reporting period, and must be filed electronically with the Consumer Financial Protection Division no later than 60 business days after the end of each calendar year.

Comments on the proposed modifications are due January 20 (extended from January 13).