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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations


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  • CFPB Ombudsman Issues First Annual Report, Makes Recommendation Regarding CFPB Supervisory Examination Process

    Consumer Finance

    On November 30, the CFPB Ombudsman’s Office submitted its first annual report to the Director of the CFPB. It describes the establishment of the office and highlights the office’s activities from July 2011 through September 30, 2012. The report also identifies two “systemic issues” that the Ombudsman reviewed: (i) consumer understanding of the CFPB complaint process and (ii) the presence of enforcement attorneys at supervisory examinations. Almost 40 percent of the questions the Ombudsman received from consumers related to the CFPB complaint process, so the Ombudsman recommended that the CFPB provide more information to the public about the complaint process using multiple methods to communicate that information. The Ombudsman also heard concerns regarding the CFPB’s policy that enforcement attorneys participate in supervisory examinations. After conducting her own review, the Ombudsman recommended that the CFPB review its implementation of the policy, and until that review is complete, establish ways to clarify the enforcement attorney role at the supervisory examination.

    CFPB Examination Nonbank Supervision Consumer Complaints

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  • FTC Loses Motion in Unfair Billing Case Against Online Payday Loan Referral Service


    On November 7, the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida held that numerous factual issues prevented the court from granting summary judgment on the FTC’s claims that an online payday loan referral business engaged in unfair and deceptive billing practices and failed to provide adequate disclosures. FTC v. Direct Benefits Group, LLC, No 11-1186, 2012 WL 5430989 (M.D. Fla. Nov. 7, 2012). The FTC alleges that the defendants violated the FTC Act by obtaining consumers’ bank account information through payday loan referral websites and debiting their accounts without their consent. The FTC also alleges that the defendants failed to adequately disclose that, in addition to using consumers’ financial information for a payday loan application, they would use it to charge them for enrollments in unrelated programs and services. Although it acknowledged that the FTC had presented substantial evidence regarding consumer complaints about the defendants’ activities, the court held that because the defendants maintain that no consumer could be enrolled in the programs without at least clicking an “okay” button on the defendants’ websites, the FTC was not entitled to summary judgment. A bench trial is scheduled for November 27, 2012, during which the parties will present additional evidence and arguments regarding the content and operation of the websites and whether consumers could enroll in the referral programs without taking affirmative steps to do so.

    FTC Payday Lending Electronic Signatures Lead Generation Consumer Complaints

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  • CFPB Begins Accepting Consumer Reporting Complaints

    Consumer Finance

    On October 22, the CFPB announced that it has begun accepting consumer complaints regarding the activities of consumer reporting agencies (CRAs). In July 2012, the CFPB issued a rule that granted the Bureau authority, effective September 30, 2012, to supervise firms with more than $7 million in annual receipts from consumer reporting activities. As part of its new supervision activities, the CFPB is seeking consumer complaints with regard to (i) incorrect information on a credit report, (ii) a consumer reporting agency’s investigation, (iii) the improper use of a credit report, (iv) being unable to get a copy of a credit score or file, and (v) credit-monitoring or identity-protection services. The CFPB encourages consumers to attempt to resolve any problems directly with the CRA before submitting a complaint to the CFPB in order to take full advantage of certain rights afforded by federal consumer financial laws.

    CFPB Consumer Reporting Consumer Complaints

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  • Federal Reserve Board Reports on CFPB Consumer Protection Unit

    Consumer Finance

    This week, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) for the Federal Reserve Board issued an evaluation of the CFPB’s Consumer Response Unit, which is responsible for managing the CFPB’s consumer complaint system. The report provides a concise overview of the CFPB’s consumer complaint process and includes the OIG’s evaluation of that process. Specifically, the OIG concludes that the CFPB’s consumer complaint process is reasonable, generally compliant with the Dodd-Frank Act, and consistent with industry best practices. However, the report also indicates that the CFPB Consumer Response Unit could improve its process by further addressing (i) inaccurate manual data entry of consumer complaints, (ii) inconsistent complaint management system data, (iii) lack of a finalized agency-wide privacy policy, (iv) lack of a comprehensive quality assurance program, and (v) lack of a centralized tracking system for quality assurance reviews.

    CFPB Federal Reserve Consumer Complaints

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