- Debt collection: On October 23rd, the CFPB held a joint roundtable with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) entitled, “Debt Collection and the Latino Community.” In opening remarks, FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez described the roundtable as an opportunity to hear from partners, consumers, academics, state regulators, debt collectors, consumer reporting agencies, and other interested individuals. The roundtable featured remarks from CFPB Associate Director for External Affairs Zixta Martinez, a presentation on consumer finance and the Latino community by Marisabel Torres of the National Council of La Raza, as well as the following panel discussions:
- Pre-Litigation Debt Collection from Latino Consumers;
- The Experience of [Limited English Proficiency (LEP)] Latinos in Debt Collection Litigation;
- Credit Reporting Issues Among LEP Latinos;
- Developing Improved Strategies for Educating and Engaging LEP Latinos About Their Debt Collection Rights; and
- Lessons Learned and Next Steps.
- Identity theft: On October 17th, President Obama signed an Executive Order entitled “Improving the Security of Consumer Financial Transactions” at CFPB headquarters. The Executive Order requires payments to and from the federal government through chip and PIN technology, addresses identity theft by supporting the FTC’s IdentityTheft.gov website, and directs federal investigators to regularly share evidence of financial fraud with affected companies. The President also announced that the White House intends to hold a Summit on Cybersecurity and Consumer Protection later this year, and that the administration continues to support both data breach legislation and cybersecurity legislation. In his remarks, the President applauded the CFPB’s work in protecting consumers from identity theft and assisting consumers in obtaining relief. FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez as well as various credit card companies and retail industry participants issued statements in support of the Executive Order.
- Financial literacy: On October 17th, the CFPB published a notice and request for public comment in the Federal Register (79 FR 62420) for a new information collection entitled, “Bridges to Financial Security: A Multi-site Demonstration Project.” The CFPB stated that it intends to launch, in the winter of 2015, a multi-site financial education demonstration project to “provide one-on-one and group financial counseling/coaching services to help individuals with disabilities transition into the workplace or already employed.” The CFPB intends to collect information through qualitative reports and quantitative aggregated individual data to measure various service provider models. The CFPB will accept public comments through December 16th.
- Student credit cards: On October 17th, the CFPB published a notice and request for public comment in the Federal Register (79 FR 62421) for a new information collection under the “Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009” entitled, “Consumer and College Credit Card Agreements.” The CFPB is seeking to require credit card issuers to submit agreements between issuers and consumers in connection with a credit card account for an open-end consumer credit plan or any college credit card agreements to which the issuer is a party. “The data collections enable the CFPB to provide consumers with a centralized depository for consumer and college credit agreements,” the CFPB stated. “It also presents the information to the public regarding the arrangements between financial institutions and institutions of higher education.” The CFPB will accept public comments through December 16th.
CFPB & Congress
- Criticism: On October 20th, the House Financial Services Committee published excerpts of Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling’s (R-TX) “Weekend Interview” with The Wall Street Journal. Hensarling characterized the CFPB as “the single most unaccountable agency in the history of America.” He criticized the CFPB for creating unneeded or unwanted consumer protections, arguing that a large number of African-Americans and Hispanics will “no longer be able to buy the homes that they have traditionally been able to buy. We are protecting them out of their homes! The Qualified Mortgages rule should have been called [the] ‘Quitting Mortgages’ [rule] because that’s what it’s all about.”
- Rulemaking: On October 17th, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) published a Cost Estimate for H.R. 4466, Rep. Shelley Moore Capito’s (R-WV) bill, the “Financial Regulatory Clarity Act of 2014.” The bill would require federal financial regulators to determine whether new regulations or orders are duplicative or inconsistent with existing rules. The CBO estimated that the bill’s enactment would increase direct spending by $7 million from 2015-2024 to fund analysis and reporting requirements, and would increase future budget deficits by $14 million over the same period. The bill was reported out by the House Financial Services Committee on May 22nd and is currently pending before the House Agriculture Committee.
- Mortgage transfers: On October 23rd, the CFPB published a final rule in the Federal Register (79 FR 63295) that finalizes “minor changes” to its mortgage servicing rules regarding mortgage transfers. The adjustments, finalized largely as originally proposed in April, provide an alternative definition of a covered small servicer for certain 501(c)(3) organizations that would allow such organizations to consolidate their servicing activities while maintaining an exemption from certain servicing provisions of the CFPB’s mortgage rules. The adjustments also provide an exemption from the Ability-to-Repay rules for certain 501(c)(3) organizations that extend 200 or more mortgage loans per year regarding certain interest-free, forgivable loans. The adjustments also provide an Ability-to-Repay exemption regarding refunds to borrowers when a lender discovers that points and fees for a Qualified Mortgage exceed the 3% limit. The CFPB’s final rule and official interpretations are effective, with specified exceptions, on October 23rd.