In March 2015, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reauthorized their 2012 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), extending it for a three-year term with a few small administrative updates. According to the FTC’s blog post, titled Peace, Love, and Understanding, the two agencies plan to continue to coordinate.
The MOU covers the following main areas:
- Law Enforcement. The agencies will protect consumers without unnecessarily burdening businesses by coordinating—and avoiding duplicative—investigations.
- Rulemaking and Guidelines. The agencies will keep the lines of communication open about planned or ongoing rulemakings and industry guidance.
- Consumer Complaints. The agencies will share consumer complaints about financial products and services through the Consumer Sentinel Network and develop guidance to assist consumers in contacting the appropriate agency.
- Research. The agencies will avoid duplicative research by meeting periodically and notifying one another within 30 days of initiating a research project before making any public announcements.
- Consumer Education. The agencies will coordinate efforts to educate consumers about financial issues. The MOU emphasizes the importance of outreach to military service members and older Americans.
- Operational Planning. The agencies will talk over issues consumers face in the financial marketplace, the remedies the agencies will use, and the task forces or working groups in which the agencies participate.
- Information Sharing and Confidentiality. The agencies will ensure that procedures are set for protecting the confidentiality of nonpublic information, such as when the agencies respond to third-party requests for information.
The MOU describes several tools available to these two agencies to regulate the consumer financial services market, including the power to conduct broad investigations of suspected violations of consumer financial protection laws. Companies in the consumer financial services market often have to work with both agencies. The MOU is a helpful tool to determine areas of cooperation between the agencies.