CFPB Issues Proposed Rule Seeking to Amend Procedures for Disclosing Certain Confidential Information

On August 24, the CFPB published a proposed rule seeking to amend procedures used by persons in the public domain to obtain information from the CFPB under the Freedom of Information Act, the Privacy Act of 1974 and legal proceedings. In part, the proposal also seeks to revise the 2013 final rule related to the “exchange of confidential supervisory information (CSI) with certain agencies.” Specifically, the CFPB proposes to remove the standard for sharing CSI, thereby utilizing the same standard for sharing information that is not considered CSI and giving the CFPB the discretion to disclose CSI to another agency “to the extent that the disclosure of the information is relevant to the exercise of the [agency’s] statutory or regulatory authority.” Among other things, if accepted, the proposal may allow the CFPB to establish a CSI sharing regime to include state attorneys general and other agencies without supervisory power. Comments are due by October 24, 2016.

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CFPB Responds to Senators’ Request to Tailor Regulations to Exempt Smaller Financial Institutions

On August 17, CFPB Director Cordray responded to a request, from a 70 senator coalition spearheaded by Senators Donnelly (D-IN) and Sasse (R-NE), that the CFPB further tailor its regulations that may be “unduly burdensome” for community banks and credit unions. In Cordray’s response, he stated that the CFPB is committed to achieving well-tailored and effective regulations within the provisions of Dodd-Frank. Further, Cordray outlined already-in-place exemptions for small creditors, various actions taken to ensure the CFPB’s “commitment” to maintaining effective regulations, and highlighted the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Act (SBREFA) panel as “just one part of the Bureau’s broader initiatives to address the unique issues facing small financial institutions.” Cordray did, however, note that one of the CFPB’s objectives is to “enforce Federal consumer financial law ‘consistently, without regard to the status of a person as a depository institution.’”

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CFPB Announces New Board and Council Members

On August 19, the CFPB announced new members to the Consumer Advisory Board, the Community Bank Advisory Council, Credit Union Advisory Council, and Academic Research Council. Pursuant to the Dodd-Frank Act, the CFPB established the Consumer Advisory Board to counsel the agency’s Director on consumer financial issues; the Community Bank Advisory Council, the Credit Union Advisory Council, and the Academic Research Council were created at the Director’s order. The nine newly appointed members to the Consumer Advisory Board and the two new members to the Academic Research Council will serve three-year terms; the seven new members to the Community Bank Council and the eight new members to Credit Union Advisory Council will serve two-year terms.

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CFPB Considers Registration Rule for Nonbank Financial Institutions

The CFPB recently issued a Request for Information (RFI) seeking vendor feedback on the agency’s consideration of establishing a web-based system that would require nonbank financial institutions to register with the CFPB. The RFI outlines the potential registration system’s capabilities and services, noting that nonbank financial institutions would use it to “apply for, amend, update, or renew a registration online using a single set of uniform applications.” In addition to other data gathering components, the potential registration system may be used for the collection of financial, operational, and organizational structure data. Responses from technology system vendors were due on July 29, 2016, with a disclaimer that the RFI was not “to be construed as a commitment that the CFPB will propose a rulemaking on the registration of nonbank financial institutions or that the CFPB will propose any specific system requirements.”

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FTC Bans New York Debt Collector; Resolves 2015 “Operation Collection Protection” Action

On August 24, the FTC, in coordination with New York AG Schneiderman, announced that it issued a final order banning a debt collector and his four companies from the debt collection business. According to the order, the defendants engaged in deceptive and abusive debt collection practices in violation of the FTC Act, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, and New York General Business Law. The final order resolves a 2015 Operation Collection Protection action alleging, among other things, that the defendants “regularly threatened, pressured, and harassed consumers into paying debts [they] did not owe,” continuing to “collect on these fake debts even after the supposed creditor notified them that the debts were bogus.” The final order imposes a judgment of more than $18.4 million, which will be partially suspended due to the defendants’ inability to pay. AG Schneiderman and the FTC issued a separate order to the owner’s ex-wife, imposing a $418,000 judgment, which also will be partially suspended.

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