Skip to main content
Menu Icon

InfoBytes Blog

Financial Services Law Insights and Observations


Subscribe to our InfoBytes Blog weekly newsletter and other publications for news affecting the financial services industry.

  • District Court grants payday lender's motion to stay CFPB case pending Supreme Court decision


    On November 3, the U.S. District Court of Nevada granted a payday lender’s motion to stay a case brought by the CFPB, pending a SCOTUS’s decision in Community Financial Services Association of America v. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (see InfoBytes here and here). The CFPB issued a civil investigative demand (CID) in late 2022 to the lender, as part of an investigation into its lending practices. The lender complied with the CID initially, but later requested a stay due to the impending SCOTUS decision regarding the constitutionality of the CFPB’s funding structure, which could impact the CFPB’s enforcement authority. Although the CFPB opposed the stay by arguing that the extensive delay could hinder its ability to investigate the lender, the court granted the lender’s motion, in line with other district courts that have faced similar issues.

    Courts CFPB Constitution U.S. Supreme Court Consumer Finance Consumer Protection CID Payday Lending

  • CFPB denies small-dollar lender’s request to set aside CID

    Federal Issues

    The CFPB recently denied a lender’s request to set aside or modify a civil investigative demand (CID) issued in January related to its short-term and small-dollar lending practices. The lender’s redacted petition asserted that it “is a small business that is barely getting by” and that it has already provided documents and information, as well as corporate testimony from the lender’s CEO/chief compliance officer. Maintaining that the CID is overly broad, unduly burdensome, and contains “many deficiencies,” the lender stated that requests made to the Bureau to withdraw the CID, narrow its focus, or raise specific concerns have not been answered. Rather, the lender claimed it was expected to incur further expenses to comply with requests that “it cannot be expected to make sense of” and that “would almost certainly result in financial ruin.”

    In denying the request, the Bureau stated that the lender did not meaningfully engage in the required meet-and-confer process, and informed the lender that, by regulation, it “will not consider a petition to set aside a CID where the petitioner does not first attempt to resolve any objections it has through good-faith negotiation with the Bureau’s investigators.” According to the Bureau, during the meet-and-confer, the lender refused to submit requested information and did not propose any modifications to the CID that would reduce the burden while still ensuring the necessary information would be provided. The Bureau also refuted the lender’s claims that the CID was overly broad, stating that it was seeking information that was “reasonably relevant” to a lawful purpose, i.e. information about its business practices as a short-term and small-dollar lender, employees in possession of relevant information, employee performance metrics, and consumers who took out loans. Obtaining information on the lender’s servicing and collection practices will “shed light on whether the representations it made about the nature and true costs of the loans were deceptive and whether the company improperly induced consumers to renew loans,” the Bureau maintained. The Bureau also disagreed with the assertion that the CID was unduly burdensome, stating that the lender, among other things, failed to establish that complying with the CID would impose excessive financial costs.

    The Bureau directed the lender to comply with the CID within 14 days of the order.

    Federal Issues CFPB Consumer Lending CID Investigations Enforcement Small Dollar Lending

  • 2nd Circuit: CFPB funding is constitutional


    On March 23, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held that the CFPB’s funding structure is constitutional—splitting from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit’s decision in Community Financial Services Association of America v. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which concluded that Congress violated the Constitution’s Appropriations Clause when it created what that Court described as a “perpetual self-directed, double-insulated funding structure.” The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to review the 5th Circuit’s decision next term (covered by InfoBytes here).

    Meanwhile, the 2nd Circuit concluded that it “cannot find any support” for the 5th Circuit’s determination in Supreme Court precedent, the text of the Constitution text, or in the history of the Appropriations Clause. “Because the CFPB’s funding structure was authorized by Congress and bound by specific statutory provisions, we find that the CFPB’s funding structure does not offend the Appropriations Clause,” the 2nd Circuit wrote. As such, the appellate court affirmed a 2020 district court order requiring the defendant debt collection law office to comply with a civil investigative demand issued by the Bureau in June 2017. As previously covered by InfoBytes, the CID requested information from the defendant as part of a Bureau investigation into whether debt collectors, furnishers, or other persons associated with the collection of debt and furnishing of information have engaged or are engaging in unfair, deceptive, or abusive acts or practices in violation of the CFPA, FDCPA, and FCRA. The defendant objected on several grounds, including that the CID was void ab initio under Seila Law LLC v. CFPB (the defendant contended that “the CFPB Director was shielded from presidential oversight by an unconstitutional removal provision at the time the CID was issued”), and that the Bureau is unconstitutionally funded. As noted in the opinion, the Bureau ratified the CID and the enforcement action against the defendant following the Supreme Court’s decision in Seila Law, and the district court ultimately granted the Bureau’s petition to enforce the CID.

    On review, the 2nd Circuit affirmed the district court’s order, concluding that the CID was not void ab initio because “there is no dispute that the CFPB Director who issued the CID was properly appointed.” The appellate court pointed to the majority opinion in the Supreme Court’s decision in Collins v. Yellen (covered by InfoBytes here), which held that “‘an unconstitutional removal restriction does not invalidate agency action so long as the agency head was properly appointed[,]’” and therefore the Bureau’s actions are not void and do not need to be ratified, unless a plaintiff can show that “the agency action would not have been taken but for the President’s inability to remove the agency head.” The panel further noted that “[s]ince the CID was issued, there have been three different CFPB Directors appointed by two different presidents, each of whom has been subject to at-will removal at some point in their tenure. There is nothing to suggest that the Director’s removal protection affected the issuance of the CID or the investigation into [the defendant].” The 2nd Circuit further concluded that “the CFPB’s funding structure is not constitutionally infirm under either the Appropriations Clause or the nondelegation doctrine, and that the CID served on [the defendant] is not an unduly burdensome administrative subpoena.”

    Courts CFPB Appellate Second Circuit Fifth Circuit CID Constitution Crowdfunding U.S. Supreme Court

  • CFPB says ruling on funding structure doesn’t affect debt collector’s CID

    Federal Issues

    In December, the CFPB denied a petition by a debt collection agency to set aside a civil investigative demand (CID) issued last October. The company challenged the Bureau’s authority to issue the CID on the grounds that the agency’s funding mechanism is unconstitutional. The company’s argument relied on a decision issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit on October 19 (covered by a Buckley Special Alert), which found that the Bureau is unconstitutionally funded and vacated the CFPB’s Payday Lending Rule. The Bureau submitted a petition for a writ of certiorari in November asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review the 5th Circuit decision (covered by InfoBytes here).

    The debt collection agency and the CFPB held a “meet and confer” at the end of October, and the company argued that during the meet and confer the parties did not agree on two of the company’s objections: (i) the inadequate Notification of Purpose Pursuant to 12 C.F.R. §1080.5 contained in the CID; and (ii) the Bureau’s unconstitutional funding mechanism. The company filed a petition to set aside the CID, arguing that because the Bureau’s funding mechanism is unconstitutional, the Bureau lacks enforcement authority and the CID should be set aside in its entirety. The company claimed a similar nexus exists between the Bureau’s unconstitutional funding mechanism and the concrete harm suffered by the company. Just as the Payday Lending Rule was vacated by the 5th Circuit and set aside as unenforceable, “but for the Bureau’s unconstitutional spending, the CID would not have been issued,” the company said.

    In rejecting the company’s arguments, the Bureau commented that it “has consistently taken the position that the administrative process … for petitioning to modify or set aside a CID is not the proper forum for raising and adjudicating challenges to the constitutionality of the Bureau’s statute.” In declining to set aside the CID on constitutional grounds, the Bureau wrote that should it later determine that it is necessary to obtain a court order compelling compliance with the CID, the company will have an opportunity to raise any constitutional arguments as a defense in district court.

    Federal Issues CFPB Enforcement CID Debt Collection Constitution Appellate Fifth Circuit Funding Structure

  • CFPB denies crypto lender’s petition to set aside CID

    Federal Issues

    On November 22, the CFPB denied a petition by a cryptocurrency lender to set aside a civil investigative demand (CID) issued by the Bureau last December. According to the Bureau, the lender (which states on its website that it is licensed by various state regulators to engage in consumer lending and money transmitting) and its affiliates market a range of products, including interest-accruing accounts and lines of credit. The CID informed the lender that a company representative was required to provide oral testimony at an investigational hearing into whether the lender's conduct is subject to federal consumer financial law, whether the lender had violated the Consumer Financial Protection Act and Regulation E, and whether an enforcement action would be in the public interest.

    The lender petitioned the Bureau in March to modify or set aside the CID, arguing, among other things, that the Bureau lacks authority to investigate its Earn Interest Product because the SEC had previously made clear in a different matter (covered by InfoBytes here) that interest-bearing crypto lending products like the lender’s Earn Interest Product are securities. Accordingly, the lender contended that the Earn Interest Product fell outside of the Bureau’s jurisdiction. Furthermore, the lender asserted that in light of the SEC’s action, it stopped offering its Earn Interest Product to new U.S. customers and “began working to implement other changes by which current users would no longer earn interest on new funds in their Earn Interest Product accounts.”

    In rejecting the lender’s arguments, the Bureau said that lender “is trying to avoid answering any of the Bureau’s questions about the Earn Interest Product (on the theory that the product is a security subject to SEC oversight) while at the same time preserving the argument that the product is not a security subject to SEC oversight. This attempt to have it both ways dooms [the lender’s] petition from the start.” The Bureau also emphasized that unresolved facts related to the lender’s Earn Interest Product make it impossible to determine whether any of the challenged conduct is subject to an exclusion from the Bureau’s authority under the CFPA or an exemption to Regulation E. The Bureau further noted that courts have established that the recipient of a CID cannot challenge an agency investigation by contesting facts that the agency might find, at least in situations “where the investigation is not patently outside the agency’s authority.”

    Federal Issues CFPB Enforcement CID Digital Assets Cryptocurrency CFPA Regulation E

  • States launch investigation into banks’ ESG investing and banking

    State Issues

    On October 19, a coalition of 19 state attorneys general, led by Missouri, Arizona, Kentucky, and Texas, announced that six large U.S. banks were served civil investigative demands (CIDs) asking for information related to their involvement with the U.N.’s Net-Zero Banking Alliance (NZBA). The Missouri AG’s office, which has led the opposition against ESG (environmental, social, governance) investing and banking practices, stated that NZBA-member banks are required to set emissions reduction targets in their lending and investment portfolios to reach net zero by 2050. According to the Missouri AG, the NZBA serves to “starve companies engaged in fossil fuel-related activities of credit on national and international markets” by requiring banks to cede authority to the U.N. The CIDs seek information from the banks on topics related to, among other things, (i) their involvement in affiliated global climate initiatives; (ii) how NZBA and Principles for Responsible Banking objectives have been incorporated into their operations; and (iii) the extent to which the banks have fulfilled their “commitment to ‘facilitat[e] the necessary transition in the real economy through prioritizing client engagement and offering products and services to support clients’ transition,’” as well as their “commitment to ‘engag[e] on corporate and industry (financial and real economy) action, as well as public policies, to help support a net-zero transition of economic sectors in line with science and giving consideration to associated social impacts.’” 

    State Issues State Attorney General ESG U.N. CID

  • District Court orders college operator to comply with CFPB CID


    On September 13, the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah ordered the operator of several defunct colleges to cooperate with a CFPB civil investigative demand (CID) for potential violations of the Consumer Financial Protection Act. In 2019, the Bureau issued a CID to the operator seeking information on its private student loan financing program, as well as litigation concerning the loan program dating back to 2012, to aid its investigation into whether the program constituted unfair, deceptive, or abusive acts or practices. The operator argued that the CID was unenforceable for several reasons, including that it was “unreasonably oppressive” and that the legality of its program had already been litigated in state action. The operator also argued that because the Bureau’s leadership structure rendered it unconstitutional, it lacked authority to enforce the CID. A magistrate judge’s recommendation narrowed the scope of the CID, but the operator continued to object, stating that a severe reduction in staff created a loss of “significant institutional knowledge” about the loan program. After the U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling in Seila Law LLC v. CFPB (holding that the director’s for-cause removal provision was unconstitutional but severable from the statute establishing the Bureau, as covered by a Buckley Special Alert ), the Bureau’s director ratified the CID. The operator then raised new objections claiming the Bureau’s funding structure violates the U.S. Constitution’s separation of powers, and therefore the agency lacks valid authority to enforce the CID.

    The court rejected the operator’s argument, writing that dicta in the Supreme Court’s decision in Seila Law “suggests the Bureau’s funding structure is not an unconstitutional delegation of power from Congress to the Executive Branch.” According to the court, while the majority opinion in Seila Law made note of the CFPB’s funding structure, it treated it “merely as an aggravator” of the for-cause removal protection issues and “went as far as saying the Bureau’s constitutional infirmity would ‘disappear’ if ‘the Director were removable at will by the President.’”

    With respect to burdensomeness, the court said the operator has failed to show evidence establishing an unreasonable burden in its objections, and that, moreover, it “has had more than three years’ notice to preserve any information it thought may be relevant to the Bureau’s investigation.” The court further stressed that the CID does not become overly burdensome simply because the operator shuttered its campuses thereby allegedly relinquishing “institutional knowledge” concerning its own education loan program prior to complying with the CID. The court granted the operator a 90-day extension to comply with the CID.

    Courts Consumer Finance CFPB Student Lending CID Enforcement Dodd-Frank CFPA UDAAP

Upcoming Events