The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB or Bureau) announced last week that it will hold a series of symposia “exploring consumer protections in today’s dynamic financial services marketplace.” The first symposium will focus on clarifying the meaning of “abusive acts or practices,” something Former Acting Director Mick Mulvaney hinted at back in October 2019. The Bureau has not yet provided details about when or where the first symposium will be held.
According to Director Kathleen Kraninger, an open dialogue about consumer protection issues is the best way forward. Kraninger states:
There are a number of outstanding, challenging issues the Bureau is facing – some of which Congress directed us to address. I believe that the best way to address these issues is with proactive dialogue. The symposia series is building on the approach we took last year in convening experts on access to credit issues and credit invisibles. These types of proactive efforts are precisely how we intend to engage. Our symposia series will facilitate a robust discussion by experts on a variety of topics related to the Bureau’s mission in a public forum. As the Bureau has an open mind on where the process will go, any appropriate next steps would come after the Bureau has had time to digest the discussion at the given symposium.
The series will also include topics such as:
- Behavioral law and economics;
- Small business loan data collection;
- Disparate impact and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act;
- Cost-benefit analysis; and
- Consumer authorized financial data sharing.
Debt collectors have long called for clarity in the outdated laws and regulations that govern the industry, and it seems the CFPB will provide a lot of it in the near future. The most anticipated event is the Bureau’s imminent release of its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for debt collection, which, according to Director Kraninger, is set to bring the industry into the 21st century by exploring email and text options. The Bureau clarifying the definition of “abusive acts and practices” is another step toward laying the rules of the road prior to taking corrective action, effectively backing away from “regulation by enforcement.”
Considering the wave of consumer privacy laws spreading across the United States, the symposium topic of consumer-authorized financial data sharing will also be of interest to debt collectors and creditors alike. Currently, California leads the way with a law in the books, but it is closely followed by states like Washington and Texas who have bills working through their legislatures. The Bureau joining the conversation early is a positive thing, especially if it assists in establishing uniformity among the state consumer privacy laws as they come down the pipeline.