On October 31, the CFPB invited the general public and other federal agencies to comment on proposed generic information collection procedures that will enable the CFPB to satisfy responsibilities under the Dodd-Frank Act. Written comments must be received on or before December 31, 2011. Written comments submitted in response to the CFPB Notice will be summarized and/or included in a request for Office of Management and Budget approval.

The proposed generic information collection will help facilitate the collection and monitoring of, and response to, consumer complaints about certain financial products and services. There is general concern in the financial industry, however, that the CFPB has been lax on its information collection controls, which could result in potential harm to the industry. Specifically, many claim the current procedures do not address the accuracy of complaints or adequately protect industry participants from unfair reputational harm due to frivolous or illegitimate consumer complaints. From a consumer standpoint there are also privacy concerns relating to the CFPB’s control of personal information contained in consumer complaints, which could ultimately lead to identity theft.  

To address these issues and streamline methods for information collection, the CFPB has invited comments on the following topics:

  • Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the CFPB, including whether the information will have practical utility;
  • Whether the CFPB’s estimate of the total annual burden hours on the proposed information collection (418,300 hours) is accurate;
  • Ways to enhance the quality, utility and clarity of the information to be collected; and
  • Ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on respondents, including the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology, such as permitting electronic submission of responses.  

Industry leaders should take a close look at the CFPB’s proposal to determine whether to submit comments, recognizing that all comments will become a matter of public record.