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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

CFPB warns remittance transfer providers against falsely advertising the costs and speed of transfers

Federal Issues CFPB CFPA Remittance UDAAP EFTA

Federal Issues

On March 27, the CFPB issued a circular cautioning remittance transfer providers against falsely advertising the costs or speed of sending transfers to avoid violating the CFPA’s prohibition on deceptive acts or practices. The CFPB would administer and enforce the Remittance Rule under the EFTA, but the Bureau noted that remittance providers also can be liable under the CFP Act for deceptive marketing practices, regardless of whether they comply with the Remittance Rule’s disclosure requirements. Through the circular, the CFPB warned against falsely marketing “no fee” or “free” services if the remittance transfer provider actually charges a fee, noting that “[w]ith respect to digital wallets or other similar products, it can be deceptive to market a transfer as ‘free’ if the provider imposes costs to convert funds into a different currency or withdraw funds,” and that “[i]t may also be deceptive to market international money transfers as ‘free’; if the provider is imposing costs on consumers through the exchange rate spread.” The Bureau also warned against “burying” promotional conditions in fine print, and falsely advertising how long a transfer will take especially if transfers may take longer to reach recipients. The circular would apply to traditional international money transfer providers, as well as “digital wallets” that send money internationally from the U.S. and would be part of the Bureau’s initiative to “rein in” alleged “junk fees.”