CFPB Announces Policy Priorities For Next Two Years

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB” or “Bureau”) released a statement last week containing its policy priorities over the next two years. With its mission of making markets for consumer financial products and services work for consumers and responsible providers by making rules work more effectively, the CFPB informed the industry that arbitration, consumer reporting, debt collection, and mortgages, among several other matters, will be on its immediate radar. For the mortgage industry, the CFPB’s broad vision includes a market where fairness, efficiency, and non-discriminatory practices prevail. With the deterioration of underwriting standards, poor supplying of information, and lack of consumer awareness in mind from the recent mortgage crisis, the CFPB is setting out to ensure that there is never a repeat of that catastrophic collapse in the market. To do so, over the next two years the Bureau will ensure that the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act is successfully implemented, that its supervisory and enforcement programs work to ensure equal and fair access to mortgage credit, and that its work with institutions to support implementation of mortgage rules will effectively continue. The Bureau will also begin to assess the effectiveness of significant rules that are already in place. Lastly, the CFPB will place a particular focus on mortgage servicers; it will do so by implementing effective servicing rules, ensuring that servicers are equipped to handle consumers’ future delinquencies fairly, and aiding currently delinquent borrowers still suffering from the aftermath of the mortgage crisis or other economic setbacks. Further applicable to the consumer finance industry is the CFPB’s focus on ridding of arbitration requirements tied to many consumer financial product offerings. The Bureau hopes to liberate the market so that consumers are able to effectuate their rights and hold institutions accountable for unlawful conduct through proceedings in the court system. The CFPB plans to author a new rule to meet this particular goal. The Bureau also plans to focus in on consumer reporting companies that track a consumer’s credit history and other information that could play a key role in decisions on consumers’ eligibility for credit, employment, and housing. The CFPB wants a consumer reporting system in place where furnishers of information provide and consumer reporting companies maintain and distribute data that are accurate and inclusive of more consumers. The Bureau believes that this should be supplemented by effective and efficient dispute management and resolution processes for consumers because of the vast number of furnishing and reporting errors that are being reported by consumers. To reach its goal, the CFPB plans to continue to monitor and assess consumer reporting companies and may consider rulemaking around the goals it maintains. Similarly, when it comes to debt collection, the Bureau would like to ensure that current rules in the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act are being followed and also implement rulemaking so that debt collectors in the market substantiate the debts they are collecting, accurately identify debtors, provide debtors with appropriate information, and communicate with debtors about their debts in a respectful, lawful, consumer-oriented way. The Bureau plans to author new rules to reach these goals that would apply to both first-party and third-party debt collectors. All entities in the consumer finance industry should be aware and remain attentive to the CFPB’s agenda. Strategic Compliance Partners vigilantly researches and reviews CFPB actions and tactically reacts, as necessary, to ensure our clients’ compliance needs are appropriately met.