The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)’s Office of Regulations has long offered the public the opportunity to ask the agency questions about specific regulatory provisions and receive informal feedback from CFPB attorneys, although the path for doing so was not always clear. Now, the CFPB is offering a new web interface to use for submitting such questions. Those wanting to send questions to the CFPB should bookmark the page for the new web form.
The form replaces the email address the CFPB has previously used to accept such questions— CFPB_RegInquiries @cfpb.gov. The form hopefully will reduce some of the friction inherent in using that email address, which could be difficult to find on the CFPB website. While submissions to that address would generate a prompt automated acknowledgement, that response also required the questioner to send another email restating the original question and confirming that the sender had not found an answer on the CFPB’s website and still wanted to ask the question. After that process took place, CFPB attorneys would respond—sometimes within just a few days—but the process for getting to that point could be cumbersome.
The new web form offers a dropdown menu to select the regulation that is the subject of the inquiry (including an option for “Other”); an optional field to specify a particular section and/or subsection; a narrative field into which to type the question; and fields for each item of contact information the CFPB needs from requestors. The CFPB states on the page containing the form (and in replies to questions submitted via the form) that it expects to reply to questions received via the form in an average of 10 to 15 business days, and that it will notify the person submitting the question if the agency needs more time to answer the question or cannot answer it.
As the CFPB is the issuer and interpreter of most federal consumer financial regulations, the CFPB’s input can be valuable—for instance, when sorting out a confusing provision of a regulation, or addressing an issue that appears not to be clearly covered by a regulatory provision. Although the feedback that CFPB staff provide through these inquiries does not constitute formal legal opinions or other binding precedent, the guidance can still be instructive as to how to analyze a given issue. Obtaining that input should hopefully be more convenient for users with the introduction of the new web form.