Comment Period Ends March 25, 2013

The Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) on January 24, 2013, released proposed guidance on social media and the applicability of consumer protection and compliance laws, regulations, and policies to activities conducted via social media. Covered financial institutions are federal banks, savings associations, and credit unions, as well as nonbank entities supervised by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and state regulators (e.g. payday lenders, title lenders, student loan lenders, consultants and those giving material support to the foregoing). The proposed guidance is found at Social Media: Consumer Compliance Risk Management Guidancel Media: Consumer Compliance Risk Management Guidance. The comment period ends March 25, 2013.

The FFIEC is an interagency body governed by representatives of the Federal Reserve System, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the National Credit Union Administration, the Comptroller of the Currency, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the State Liaison Committee.

Although the guidance does not impose additional obligations on financial institutions, the FFIEC notes that it expects financial institutions to take steps to manage potential risks associated with social media, as they would with any new process or product channel.

Comments Are Sought on the Following Questions

The FFIEC invites comments on any aspect of the proposed guidance. It is specifically seeking comments on the following questions:

  • Are there other types of social media, or ways in which financial institutions are using social media, that are not included in the proposed guidance but that should be included?
  • Are there other consumer protection laws, regulations, policies or concerns that may be implicated by financial institutions’ use of social media that are not discussed in the proposed guidance but that should be discussed?
  • Are there any technological or other impediments to financial institutions’ compliance with applicable laws, regulations, and policies when using social media of which the Agencies should be aware?

Action Steps

Covered financial institutions should promptly take action as follows:

  • Appoint a group to review the proposed guidance (social media director, marketing director and corporate counsel).
  • Compare the proposed guidance requirements to your current and planted social media sites and websites (that may be social media sites).
  • File comments well before the comment period ends on March 25, 2013.
  • Define the steps to manage potential risks associated with social media as described in the proposed guidance.
  • Begin preparing for compliance.