Following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued a number of policy statements to provide temporary flexibilities and guidance for financial institutions in consumer financial markets, including mortgages, credit cards, credit reporting and prepaid cards, on complying with their legal and regulatory obligations. Effective April 1, 2021, the CFPB rescinded seven of such policy statements (the 2020 Policy Statements). In addition to the 2020 Policy Statements, the CFPB rescinded its 2018-01 Bulletin on Supervisory Communications–replacing it with the revised Bulletin 2021-01 describing its use of matters requiring attention (MRAs) to effectively convey supervisory expectations.
CFPB Acting Director Dave Uejio stated, “Providing regulatory flexibility to companies should not come at the expense of consumers. Because many financial institutions have developed more robust remote capabilities and demonstrated improved operations, it is no longer prudent to maintain these flexibilities. The CFPB’s first priority, today and always, is protecting consumers from harm.” As such, the CFPB provided notice that it intends to exercise the full scope of the supervisory and enforcement authority provided to the CFPB under the Dodd-Frank Act.
The rescinded policy statements and MRA Bulletin are:
• Statement on Bureau Supervisory and Enforcement Response to COVID-19 Pandemic (March 26, 2020), which provided for the CFPB’s commitment to considering staffing and related resource challenges facing financial institutions related to supervision and enforcement activities.
• Statement on Supervisory and Enforcement Practices Regarding Quarterly Reporting Under the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (March 26, 2020), which provided for postponing quarterly HMDA reporting requirements for impacted large institutions. The rescission also instructs all financial institutions required to file quarterly to do so beginning with their 2021 first quarter data, due on or before May 31, 2021, for all covered loans and applications with a final action taken date between January 1 and March 31, 2021.
• Statement on Supervisory and Enforcement Practices Regarding CFPB Information Collections for Credit Card and Pre-paid Account Issuers (March 26, 2020), which provided for postponing annual data submission requirements with respect to credit card and pre-paid accounts required under the Regulations Z and E. The rescission also provides guidance as to how entities should now meet the specified information collections requirements relating to credit card and prepaid accounts.
• Statement on Supervisory and Enforcement Practices Regarding the Fair Credit Reporting Act and Regulation V in Light of the CARES Act (April 1, 2020), which provided for credit reporting agencies and furnishers’ credit reporting obligations under the FCRA and Regulation V during the COVID-19 pandemic. The rescission did leave “intact the section entitled ‘Furnishing Consumer Information Impacted by COVID-19’ which conveys the CFPB’s support for furnishers’ voluntary efforts to provide payment relief as well as the CFPB’s intention to not cite in examinations or take enforcement actions against those who furnish information to consumer reporting agencies that accurately reflect the payment relief measures they are employing.”
• The rescission also withdraws the CFPB as a signatory to the Interagency Statement on Loan Modifications and Reporting for Financial Institutions Working with Customers Affected by the Coronavirus (April 7, 2020) and the Interagency Statement on Appraisals and Evaluations for Real Estate Related Financial Transactions Affected by the Coronavirus (April 14, 2020).
• Statement on Supervisory and Enforcement Practices Regarding Certain Filing Requirements Under the Interstate Land Sales Full Disclosure Act (ILSA) and Regulation J (April 27, 2020), which provided that the CFPB would not take supervisory or enforcement action against land developers subject to the Interstate Land Sales Full Disclosure Act and Regulation J for delays in filing financial statements and annual reports of activity.
• Statement on Supervisory and Enforcement Practices Regarding Regulation Z Billing Error Resolution Timeframes in Light of the COVID-19 Pandemic (May 13, 2020), which provided supervision and enforcement flexibility for creditors to resolve billing errors during the pandemic.
• Statement on Supervisory and Enforcement Practices Regarding Electronic Credit Card Disclosures in Light of the COVID-19 Pandemic (June 3, 2020), which provided temporary flexibility for credit card issuers regarding electronic provision of certain disclosures during the COVID-19 pandemic in accordance with the E-Sign Act and Regulation Z.
• Bulletin 2018-01: Changes to Types of Supervisory Communications is rescinded and replaced by Bulletin 2021-01 announcing changes to how CFPB examiners articulate supervisory expectations. The new bulletin states that the CFPB will continue to rely on MRAs, explains the circumstances under which it will do so, and announces that the CFPB will discontinue use of Supervisory Recommendations. Note that the Bulletin further states that “Bureau examiners may issue MRAs with or without a related supervisory finding that a supervised entity has violated a Federal consumer financial law.”
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