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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations


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  • CFPB Holds Field Hearing on Payday Lending, Releases Payday Lending Exam Guide

    Consumer Finance

    On January 19, the CFPB held a field hearing in Birmingham, Alabama to discuss payday lending products. The hearing, which was the first such hearing held by the CFPB, included three panels featuring CFPB staff, consumer groups, and industry representatives. In conjunction with the event, the CFPB also released its “Short-Term, Small-Dollar Lending Procedures,” which is a field guide for use in examining bank and nonbank payday lenders. These procedures are structured to mirror payday lending activities ranging from initial advertising to collection practices. The CFPB will prioritize its supervision of payday lenders depending on the perceived risk to consumers, taking into account factors such as a lender’s volume of business and the extent of existing state oversight. In remarks at the event, Director Richard Cordray stated that there are some payday lenders and practices that deserve more urgent attention because they present immediate risk to consumers and are “clearly illegal.” The Director identified two examples of such practices, including (i) unauthorized debits on a consumer’s checking account that can occur when the consumer unknowingly “is dealing with several businesses hidden behind a payday loan,” any one of which could be a “fraudster” merely seeking the customer’s private financial information, and (ii) “aggressive debt collection tactics” including “posing as federal authorities, threatening borrowers with criminal prosecution, trying to garnish wages improperly, and harassing the borrower.”

    CFPB Payday Lending Nonbank Supervision

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  • CFPB Launches Nonbank Supervision Program

    Consumer Finance

    On January 5, the CFPB announced the launch of its nonbank supervision program. With a Director now in place, the Obama Administration believes that the CFPB can now exercise authority granted to it by the Dodd-Frank Act to supervise companies that offer or provide consumer financial products or services, but that do not have a bank, thrift, or credit union charter. (Republican senators have expressed disagreement; in their view, the Dodd-Frank Act grants that authority only when a CFPB Director has been confirmed by the Senate.) Nonbank supervision will proceed in two phases, with immediate focus on nonbank mortgage, payday lending, and private education companies, regardless of such a company's size. A second phase will expand supervision to large debt collection, consumer reporting, auto financing, and money-service businesses. The CFPB expects soon to propose a rule defining "larger participants" in those second-phase markets, a predicate to exercising its supervisory authority over such institutions. The CFPB also noted that it may supervise any nonbank whose conduct poses risks to consumers with regard to consumer financial products or services. Rules describing procedural guidelines for exercising that authority will be published in the future.

    Nonbank Supervision

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