CFPB Issues Advisory Bulletin on Detecting and Preventing Consumer Harm from Production Incentives

In a November 28 advisory bulletin entitled Detecting and Preventing Consumer Harm from Production Incentives, the CFPB highlights examples from its supervisory and enforcement experience in which incentives contributed to substantial consumer harm. The bulletin also describes compliance management steps that supervised entities should take to mitigate risks posed by incentives. Among other things, the CFPB clarifies that it is not outlawing sales incentives or other similar programs, but rather is cautioning companies that such programs can lead to abuse. As explained in the bulletin, “[t]ying bonuses or employment status to unrealistic sales goals or to the terms of transactions may intentionally or unintentionally encourage illegal practices such as unauthorized account openings, unauthorized opt-ins to overdraft services, deceptive sales tactics, and steering consumers into less favorable products.”

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CFPB Monthly Complaint Snapshot Spotlights Debt Settlement, Check Cashing, and Other Financial Services Complaints

On November 29, the CFPB released Volume 17 of its monthly complaint snapshot reports on consumer complaints stemming from financial services that fall outside of the Bureau’s major complaint categories. The “other financial services” covered in the report include debt settlement, check cashing, money orders, and credit repair. To date, the CFPB has handled approximately 1,035,200 complaints nationally across all products. As reported in the current snapshot: (i) Debt collection was the most-complained-about financial product or service in October; (ii) Student loan complaints showed the greatest increase—108 percent—of any product or service over the three-month period of August to October; and (iii) Alaska, New Mexico, and Missouri experienced the greatest year-to-year complaint volume increases from August to October 2016 period versus the same time period 12 months before. The current report also highlighted a trend in complaints coming from Oklahoma and the Oklahoma City metro area.

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CFPB Publishes Updated Version of its Mortgage Servicing Small Entity Compliance Guide

On December 1, the CFPB published an updated version of the Mortgage Servicing Small Entity Compliance Guide on its “Mortgage Servicing Implementation & Guidance” webpage. The updated guide incorporates amendments made to mortgage servicing provisions in Regulation X and Regulation Z by the 2016 Mortgage Servicing final rule. Most provisions of the 2016 Mortgage Serving final rule take effect on October 19, 2017. However, the provisions relating to successors in interest and the provisions relating to periodic statements for borrowers in bankruptcy will not take effect until April 19, 2018.

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PHH Response Due Date Pushed Back as Solicitor’s General Permitted to Respond to CFPB’s Petition in PHH Corp. v. CFPB by December 22

As discussed previously, the D.C. Circuit ordered PHH to respond to the CFPB’s petition for en banc review of the October 2016 three-judge panel decision in PHH Corp. v. CFPB. In an Unopposed Motion for Leave to file the United States’ Response, filed December 1, the Office of the Solicitor General sought permission to file its own responsive briefing on or before December 22. In an Order issued December 1, the D.C. Circuit granted the Solicitor General’s request, but also moved back the due date for PHH’s responsive papers so that both responses are now due on December 22.

Earlier in the week, on November 30, two groups filed amicus briefs in support of the CFPB’s petition together along with motions requesting an invitation from the court. The first brief was submitted by a group of leading consumer protection organizations, while the second brief was filed by a group of 21 current and former members of Congress.

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Full D.C. Circuit Orders PHH to Respond to CFPB’s Petition for En Banc Review, Invites U.S. Solicitor General to Provide Views

On November 23, the full D.C. Circuit ordered PHH to respond to the CFPB’s petition for en banc review of the October 2016 three-judge panel decision in PHH Corp. v. CFPB. The CFPB’s November 18 petition challenged, among other things, the conclusion by the majority of the panel that the CFPB’s structure was unconstitutional and that, to remedy this defect, the Director must be removable at will by the President. PHH’s response, which is due by December 8, would not have been permitted without the court’s order. Similarly, the CFPB is not permitted to file a reply unless ordered by the court.  Importantly, the en banc court also “invited” the U.S. Solicitor General “to file a response to the petition” to “express[] the views of the United States.” Although there is no deadline for this response, the invitation allows the Solicitor General to respond before the change in administration, which may be significant because the Dodd-Frank Act does not allow the CFPB to petition the Supreme Court for review without the approval of the Attorney General (12 USC § 5564(e)).

For additional background, please see our summaries of the panel decision and the CFPB’s petition for rehearing.

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