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CFPB launches new system to promote consistent enforcement of consumer financial protections

May 16, 2022 / Source: CFPB

To promote consistency among enforcers and fair competition in the market, the CFPB is launching a new system to provide guidance to other agencies with consumer financial protection responsibilities on how the CFPB intends to enforce federal consumer financial law. The CFPB will issue Consumer Financial Protection Circulars to the broad set of government agencies responsible for enforcing federal consumer financial law.

The CFPB is the principal regulator responsible for administering the federal consumer financial laws, including the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the Consumer Financial Protection Act, and many others. However, the CFPB is not the only enforcer of these laws. Enforcement responsibility is spread among a large set of state and federal government agencies to protect families and honest businesses together.

Given the broad variety of agencies responsible for enforcing federal consumer financial law, there is a risk that companies might encounter inconsistent enforcement strategies and approaches. One of the CFPB’s statutory objectives is to ensure federal consumer financial law is enforced consistently regardless of the status of a person as a chartered bank or nonbank. Many entities are subject to the jurisdiction of multiple agencies, and to maintain certainty of expectations for those companies with multiple regulators, it is important for state and federal government agencies to consistently enforce the laws that the CFPB administers. Consistency is also imperative to creating a level playing field between companies that compete in the same market but are subject to the jurisdiction of different enforcers.

The enforcers of federal consumer financial law include, most notably, state attorneys general and state regulators, as well as federal financial regulators such as the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, and the National Credit Union Administration. Some federal consumer financial laws are also enforceable by other federal agencies, including the Department of Justice, the Federal Trade Commission, the Farm Credit Administration, the Department of Transportation, and the Department of Agriculture. In addition, some of these laws provide for private enforcement.

The CFPB will also release Consumer Financial Protection Circulars publicly to increase transparency for the benefit of the public and regulated entities.

The CFPB is beginning to identify a number of issues that would benefit from clear and consistent enforcement, and the agency intends to issue new Consumer Financial Protection Circulars to advance these goals. We strongly encourage enforcers of federal consumer financial law to contact us with suggestions for new Consumer Financial Protection Circulars. The CFPB is also interested in receiving feedback on any Consumer Financial Protection Circulars it issues. Enforcers, and the broader public, can also provide feedback and comments to [email protected].