CFPB responds to COVID-19

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced a number of changes to help consumers and regulated businesses amid the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. It suspended several data collection requirements, tweaked its examination structure and joined other federal regulators in urging financial institutions to work with impacted customers.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced a number of changes to help consumers and regulated businesses amid the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The CFPB is suspending its quarterly collection of Home Mortgage Disclosure Act and Regulation C data “to allow companies to focus on responding to consumers in need,” the agency said. The bureau is also suspending reporting requirements related to credit card and prepaid accounts under the Truth in Lending Act, Regulation Z, and Regulation E. Companies should still collect the information, however, and the bureau will announce plans for resumption of the collection in the future.

Two surveys were also suspended, one relating to the cost of compliance with Section 1071 of the Dodd-Frank Act and the second on implementing Section 307 of the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act.

The agency is also tweaking its approach to supervisory activities to account for impacts from the novel coronavirus. It “will work with affected financial institutions in scheduling examinations and other supervisory activities to minimize disruption and burden” and will take good-faith efforts to assist consumers into account.

“As consumers seek temporary relief from lenders, the pandemic is impacting the operations of financial companies that are eager to help their customers during this unprecedented time,” said CFPB Director Kathy Kraninger in a statement. “Our actions today are temporary and targeted to support consumers by allowing financial companies to focus their resources on assisting consumers.

Along with other federal regulators, the CFPB urged financial services companies to work with their affected customers, including  “responsible small-dollar loans” for consumers and small businesses.The agencies “will not criticize institutions for [working with borrowers] in a safe and sound manner, and will not direct supervised institutions to automatically categorize loan modifications as troubled debt restructurings.”

Offering “prudent loan modification programs” to affected borrowers are “proactive actions …in the best interest of institutions, their borrowers, and the economy.” Such efforts to mitigate the financial impacts of the pandemic include short-term modifications such as payment deferrals, fee waivers or extensions of repayment terms.

The CFPB also launched a number of consumer resources, including for those struggling to pay bills, facing a loss of income or those who are targeted by scammers. 

“During this difficult time, the bureau is doing everything it can to facilitate the work of responsible financial companies supporting their customers and borrowers,” Kraninger said. “We want consumers facing hardships to be … aware of this posture and encourage them to discuss their specific circumstances with their lenders. As a backstop, the CFPB stands ready to help consumers resolve issues with their financial services providers through our consumer complaint system.”

Fredrikson & Byron Law