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On March 12, the CFPB released a proposed rule to govern the confidential treatment of privileged information submitted to the Bureau by the financial institutions it regulates. The proposed rule, which would amend 12 C.F.R. part 1070, subpart D, would add a new section providing that a person’s submission of any information to the CFPB in the course of the CFPB’s supervisory or regulatory processes would not waive or otherwise affect any privilege that such person might claim under federal or state law with respect to the submitted information. In the preamble to the proposed rule, the CFPB notes that although the Dodd-Frank Act did not explicitly address whether the submission of confidential information to the CFPB affects any privilege a supervised entity might claim, the Dodd-Frank Act did grant the CFPB all the powers and duties of the prudential regulators regarding their transferred consumer financial protection functions. The CFPB concludes that this grant of powers and duties includes the ability to receive privileged information from supervised entities without resulting in a waiver of any privileges. The CFPB added that its proposed rule is promulgated pursuant to Congress’s delegation of authority to the CFPB to prescribe rules governing the confidential treatment of information obtained from persons during its exercise of its authority. In addition to providing for the non-waiver of privilege when submitting information to the CFPB, the proposed rule provides that the CFPB’s provision of privileged information to another federal or state agency would not waive any applicable privilege, whether the privilege belongs to the CFPB or any other person. Comments on the proposed rule must be submitted on or before April 16, 2012.
On March 12, the CFPB announced that it launched a system to handle consumer complaints regarding auto loans and installment loans. The new complaint form also allows consumers to submit complaints regarding vehicle leases and personal lines of credit. While the system will accept all such complaints, the CFPB initially can handle only complaints with regard to consumer loans with large banks, those over $10 billion in total assets. Loans issued by small banks or nonbanks will be referred to the appropriate federal or state authority. After it has finalized a rule defining “larger participants” in these markets, the CFPB will be permitted to handle directly complaints regarding covered nonbanks.
On March 14, the CFPB announced on its blog that, pursuant to its Memorandum of Understanding with the FTC, the CFPB now is sharing consumer complaint information with the FTC through the FTC’s Consumer Sentinel system. Consumer Sentinel is an online database of consumer complaints maintained by the FTC that helps law enforcement track and respond to consumer complaints. Many state attorneys general, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center also access and provide data to the FTC’s Consumer Sentinel system.
CFPB Director Addresses State Attorneys General, Spotlight on Payday Lenders, Debt Collectors, and Servicing Rules
The National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) met this week in Washington, DC. Among the topics covered at the annual meeting was the ongoing and future coordination between federal and state law enforcement with regard to financial services. CFPB Director Cordray, a former state attorney general, noted that NAAG and the CFPB already have several working groups organized to address payday loans, foreclosure scams, auto loans, and debt collection. These efforts will be supported through a formal Memorandum of Understanding that is expected to be finalized soon. In his remarks and in follow up questioning, Director Cordray specifically addressed enforcement and supervision with regard to payday lenders and debt collectors. It was reported that Director Cordray indicated that the CFPB and the FTC are “zoning in” on issues related to payday lenders associated with Native American tribes. Regarding debt collectors, the Director stated that aggressive enforcement by the FTC and states is not enough, and that the CPFB would like federal and state regulators and enforcement agencies to develop a national strategic plan that leverages the CFPB’s supervision and enforcement capabilities. Finally, on planned rulemaking by the CFPB, the Director noted ongoing efforts to develop rules governing mortgage servicing, including force-placed insurance products and hybrid ARMs.
On March 7, the CFPB updated its Supervision and Examination Manual with SAFE Act examination procedures. The procedures set forth the background and requirements of the SAFE Act, and its federal implementing regulations, for use in examining federally regulated depository institutions for compliance with the SAFE Act.
On March 5, the CFPB’s student loan ombudsman, Rohit Chopra, acknowledged in a blog post that the CPFB had launched its student loan complaint system. The CFPB outlined its expectations regarding financial institution response and resolution times. It expects institutions to respond to complaints with fifteen days, and resolve complaints within sixty days. Concurrent with the opening of the complaint system, the CFPB sent a letter to university officials advising them of this new resource available for their students and alumni.
On March 1, the CFPB announced that it is has begun taking complaints regarding bank deposit products. As it has done previously with mortgages and credit cards, the CFPB is asking consumers to submit complaints through its website and other means regarding (i) account opening, closing, and management; (ii) deposits and withdrawals; (iii) debit or ATM cards; (iv) making or receiving payments or transmitting funds; and (v) problems related to low account funds. Banks will be notified when they are the subject of a complaint and the CFPB expects banks to respond to complaints within fifteen days. Consumers can dispute a bank’s resolution of a complaint, but the CFPB aims to have each complaint resolved within sixty days. Although not formally announced, the CFPB has, on its website, also created space for consumers to submit complaints regarding student loans and consumer loans, such as auto loans.
On February 22, the CFPB launched an inquiry into overdraft practices with a coordinated release of information. The official announcement came during a CFPB Roundtable discussion at Hunter College in New York City. At that event, CFPB Director Richard Cordray drew similarities between overdraft practices and payday lending, which was the subject of a prior CFPB field event. Mr. Cordray expressed his “concern that overdraft practices employed by some banks unnecessarily increase consumer costs by making it difficult to anticipate and avoid fees.” He also identified some practices the CFPB views as problematic, including those related to (i) ordering of transactions, (ii) missing or confusing information, and (iii) misleading marketing. To address those and other practices, the CFPB issued a request for information from consumers, third party processors, and financial institutions, regarding overdraft programs and their costs, benefits and risks to consumers. The CFPB also released and is seeking comment on a prototype “penalty fee box” that would appear on checking account statements to highlight overdraft activity and fees. Finally, the CFPB is collecting data from several large banks to inform a study of the effects of prior federal regulations and guidance regarding overdraft fees. While conducting these initiatives, Director Cordray promised to employ the CFPB’s supervisory and enforcement authorities to take action against financial institutions engaged in deceptive marketing related to overdrafts.
On February 21, the CFPB announced the formation of a small business panel to provide feedback on the Bureau’s mortgage disclosure form initiatives, as required under the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act. That law requires that federal agencies gather small business input to help the agencies fulfill the related legal requirement that regulations avoid significant economic impact on a substantial number of small firms. The panel will provide feedback on small business compliance burdens related to the CFPB’s proposed mortgage disclosures and related proposed regulations. The CFPB’s announcement included the release of several documents that will be shared with the panel, including a detailed overview of the mortgage disclosure proposals under consideration, a fact sheet summarizing the review process, and an outline of questions the panel will address. In a related blog post, the CFPB also sought public comment on the proposals to be considered by the small business panel. The formation of the panel follows the CFPB’s recent release of another round of prototype integrated mortgage disclosures. After several rounds of previous testing, the CFPB provides in this most recent release a prototype loan estimate and settlement disclosure. At this stage, the CFPB no longer is offering multiple versions to compare, but is still testing the prototypes in person while seeking broader public feedback online. The CFPB promises that this is the last round of testing before it turns to crafting a proposed rule.
CFPB Proposes Rule to Define "Larger Participants" in the Consumer Debt Collection And Consumer Reporting Markets
On February 16, the CFPB released a proposed rule to define “larger participants” in the markets for consumer debt collection and consumer reporting, thereby beginning the process by which the CFPB will determine which such entities are subject to its supervision. In short, the proposal uses annual receipts as the metric for determining larger participants. Under the Dodd-Frank Act, the CFPB has authority to supervise, regardless of size, nonbanks that provide to consumers (i) origination, brokerage, or servicing of residential mortgage loans secured by real estate, and related mortgage loan modification or foreclosure relief services; (ii) private education loans; and (iii) payday loans. The CFPB also has the power to supervise “larger participants” in any other market for consumer financial products or services, and the Act grants the CFPB authority to define “larger participants.” In this first effort to define larger participants in specific markets, the CFPB proposes to supervise debt collectors with more than $10 million in annual receipts from debt collection activities, which would cover approximately 175 debt collection firms that collectively account for 63 percent of annual receipts from the debt collection market. Consumer reporting agencies with more than $7 million in annual receipts from consumer reporting activities also would be covered, capturing approximately seven percent of consumer reporting agencies, or about 30 firms, which the CFPB estimates account for approximately 94 percent of the annual receipts from consumer reporting. Stakeholders and the public can submit comments on the proposal through April 17, 2012. The CFPB plans to issue larger participant proposed rules for other markets. Final rules for all markets must be published by July 21, 2012.
On February 16, the House Financial Services Committee approved H.R. 4014, which would mandate that providing information to the CFPB for any purpose as part of the supervisory process will not be construed as waiving, destroying, or otherwise affecting any privilege applicable to such information. The bill would accomplish this by amending the Federal Deposit Insurance Act to create the same non-waiver of privilege protections already afforded to information submitted by supervised entities to federal, state, and foreign banking regulators. A substantially identical bill, S. 2099, recently was introduced in the Senate by Chairman Johnson and Ranking Member Shelby of the Senate Banking Committee.
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- Jonice Gray Tucker to discuss "Consumer financial services" at the Practising Law Institute Banking Law Institute
- Daniel P. Stipano to discuss "BSA/AML - Covid impact and regulatory/guidance roundup" at an NAFCU webinar
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