CFPB & Congress

  • Rulemaking: On April 10th, Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) introduced H.R. 4466, the “Financial Regulatory Clarity Act of 2014,” which would require seven financial regulators, including the CFPB, to determine whether a new regulation or order that it issues is duplicative or inconsistent with existing federal regulations, as well as whether existing regulations are outdated.  The bill would also require regulators, within 60 days of making such a determination, to report recommendations to Congress for repealing or amending, “any conflicting, inconsistent, duplicative, or outdated laws or regulations.”
  • Supervision: On April 10th, Sen. Dan Coats (R-IN) introduced S. 2242, which would require the CFPB to obtain information regarding financial institutions with less than $10 billion in assets through publicly available sources.  If the information is not publicly available, the CFPB may then request the information through existing banking regulators but only after justifying a need for the requested information; and the prudential regulator may deny any such CFPB request.  Further, the bill would allow the CFPB to request only institution- specific information and not industry-wide information.  In a press release, Coats stated that Indiana’s community banks and credit unions, “did not cause the financial crisis, but they are being treated as if they did by federal bureaucrats.”
  • Employee Management: On April 10th, Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC), Chair of the House Financial Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, threatened to subpoena the CFPB if it again refused to testify in response to allegations of employee discrimination and retaliation.  McHenry noted that two CFPB officials declined invitations to testify at an April 2nd  Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee hearing entitled, “Allegations of Discrimination and Retaliation within the [CFPB]” (previously reported). McHenry requested that CFPB Director Richard Cordray provide written assurances that any invited CFPB employee may testify on the same issue at a future hearing and added that, without such assurances, “the testimony of CFPB employees will be compelled by the issuance of a subpoena.” Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), Chairman of the full Committee, has expressed similar intent to compel CFPB testimony on such allegations.  Director Cordray has expressed a willingness to discuss the allegations with Committee members, but has not offered to testify.

CFPB  Rulemaking

  • International Money Transfers: On April 15th, the CFPB released a proposed rule revising its international money transfer rule by extending for five years an exception that would allow federally insured institutions to estimate third-party fees in disclosing remittance transfer costs. The CFPB stated in a press release that the exception provided in the proposed rule:
    • Would preserve the existing rule’s new consumer protections;
    • Would be “limited” because it would not apply to most remittances; and
    • Would target, “problems [that] are unique to insured institutions.”

Public comments will be accepted for 30 days following the proposed rule’s publication in the Federal Register.

CFPB Operations

  • Debt Collection: On April 15th, ACA International reported that the CFPB has updated its notification processes related to its debt collection complaints.  Specifically, the CFPB’s complaint portal will notify subscribers only when a consumer adds a new complaint or edits an existing complaint.
  • Privacy in Consumer Response: On April 16th, the CFPB published a notice of a Revised Privacy Act System of Records (79 FR 21440) affecting its Consumer Response System. The CFPB clarified, among other things, that it will not collect information about third-party individuals mentioned in complaints and clarified also that information in the system, “will be used for administrative purposes, to ensure quality control, performance, and improving management processes.”  Public comments will be accepted through May 16th.
  • Consumer Credit: On April 14th, the CFPB published a notice in the Federal Register (79 FR 20865) of a new information collection of unspecified consumer data through controlled trials in field and economic laboratory settings.  The CFPB states that it is seeking to better understand, “consumer credit markets and household financial decision-making.”  Public comments will be accepted through June 13th.
  • Student Loans: On April 14th, CFPB Student Loans Ombudsman Rohit Chopra published a blog post entitled, “Explainer: Federal Student Loan Interest Rates to Jump,” which addresses consumer-submitted questions about the rates for upcoming federal student loans.  The CFPB referred to its updated Paying for College tool and provided estimated rates for different loan types.
  • Student Loans: On April 10th, the CFPB published a blog post entitled, “Choosing a College is a Big Deal. We Can Help!”  Noting that many students are now receiving college acceptance letters, the CFPB promoted its “crisp new version of our Paying for College tool kit,” which includes its reintroduced GI Bill benefits calculator and its Financial Aid Shopping Sheet.  The CFPB further stated that it is, “currently piloting a way…[to] provide information that complement[s] what schools are providing to students in their financial aid packages.”

CFPB Outreach

  • Debt Collection: On April 11th, ACA International announced that, last week, officials from the CFPB’s Regulatory, Markets, and Research offices met executives of Remex, a collections firm and ACA International member, at their offices in New Jersey regarding industry practices. The visit included a meeting addressing medical debt collection and public policy, and included a demonstration of Remex’s collection management software. ACA Board member Keith Kettelkamp stated, “We were pleased to have [had] a great conversation with the CFPB team” regarding his business, and added, “We don’t object to rules, we just need to clearly know what the rules are.”