Three Regulators Are Scarier than One

In the latest example of exemplary coordination between other federal agencies and various states, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency ordered Citizens Bank last week to pay penalties of over $20 million, and restitution of approximately $11 million, in connection with its imprecise crediting of deposits. Lenders must understand that not only does the CFPB synchronize enforcement with other agencies at the federal and state levels, in many cases the bureau also lurks somewhat behind the scenes, getting directly involved only in later stages of the investigations. When facing enforcement both from state and federal authorities, lenders must consider the possibility of CFPB involvement at all stages of an investigation. This is especially true in matters involving interstate lending operations and/or potential misconduct. Despite Citizens’ claims that the bank verified customer deposits, it was discovered that below a certain dollar threshold, discrepancies between deposit slips and the actual amount deposited were left uncorrected. Some consumers benefitted from these errors, while others lost. True to the CFPB’s guiding principle, the bureau found the practice unfair and deceptive, and levied harsh penalties against the bank.

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