On April 1, 2020, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) released a statement on “Supervisory and Enforcement Practices Regarding the Fair Credit Reporting Act and Regulation V in Light of the CARES Act.” This statement provides guidance outlining the CFPB’s expectations of furnishers and consumer reporting agencies (“CRAs”) during the COVID-19 pandemic, and signals that the CFPB will take a flexible supervisory and enforcement approach to compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”) and its implementing regulation, Regulation V.

The key points of the CFPB’s guidance are discussed below.
Continue Reading CFPB Releases Guidance on FCRA and Regulation V Compliance During COVID-19

On March 3, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Seila Law LLC v. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a case centered on the constitutionality of the Bureau’s leadership structure.  A transcript of the argument is available here, and an audio recording is available here.

Continue Reading U.S. Supreme Court Hears Arguments on Constitutionality of CFPB

On February 26, 2020, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau hosted a symposium titled “Consumer Access to Financial Records.”  Video of the Symposium is available here.  The agenda included discussion among panelists from large financial institutions, fintechs, consumer groups, policy centers, and the CFPB.  Director Kathleen L. Kraninger also delivered brief opening remarks describing the history of regulation of financial data access.

Much of the symposium’s discussion focused on Section 1033 of the Dodd-Frank Act, which governs consumers’ rights to access their financial data.  While the CFPB has the authority to issue rules interpreting Section 1033, it has not done so (although it has issued non-binding “Consumer Protection Principles” on financial data sharing and aggregation).


Continue Reading CFPB Hosts Symposium on Consumer Access to Financial Records

The House Financial Services Committee (“HFSC”) announced that it will convene hearings this month to consider both the trend of financial technology firms partnering with chartered banks to provide financial services and the rise of mobile payments. More information about the hearing schedule is available on the HFSC’s website.
Continue Reading House Financial Services Committee to Consider Two Fintech Issues In January

On December 19, 2019, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) appealed a decision from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York holding that the OCC cannot offer special purpose national bank charters to fintech companies. Lacewell v. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, Case 1:18-cv-08377 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 14, 2018).
Continue Reading OCC Appeals Fintech Charter Ruling to Second Circuit

On January 7, 2020, the presidential campaign of Senator Elizabeth Warren released a plan to overhaul the consumer bankruptcy system in the United States. The plan would repeal means testing and other provisions of the 2005 Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act. It would also implement enhanced protections for consumer debtors who file for bankruptcy.

Perhaps most significantly, the plan would abolish the “undue hardship” standard for the discharge of student loans. Under current law, borrowers seeking to discharge student loans must file a separate adversary proceeding alongside their non-adversary bankruptcy case and make a significant showing of hardship. The plan would treat student loans identically to other types of consumer debt, allowing for their discharge without any special showing.
Continue Reading Warren Proposes Far-Reaching Consumer Bankruptcy Reforms

On December 10, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) held a joint workshop on accuracy in consumer reporting. The workshop included remarks from FTC Commissioner Noah Joshua Phillips, CFPB Assistant Director for Supervision Policy Peggy Twohig, CFPB Deputy Director Brian Johnson, and FTC Deputy Director for the Bureau of Economics Andrew Stivers. The workshop included four panels:

  • Panel 1: Furnisher Practices and Compliance with Accuracy Requirements
  • Panel 2: Current Accuracy Topics for Traditional Credit Reporting
  • Panel 3: Accuracy Considerations for Background Screening
  • Panel 4: Navigating the Dispute Process

Panelists included a range of stakeholders in the consumer reporting ecosystem, including representatives from consumer reporting agencies (“CRAs”), trade associations, furnishers, and consumer advocacy organizations.

In her closing remarks, Maneesha Mithal, Associate Director in the FTC’s Division of Privacy & Identity Protection, discussed three key takeaways and themes from the workshop:

  • (1) Alternative Data: Mithal noted that the issue of alternative data came up on almost every panel, and that there appeared to be a consensus that using some types of alternative data may benefit consumers and the industry. Mithal noted that a number of panelists expressed caution about using “fringe data,” including social media data.In a panel discussion, Michael Turner, founder and President of the Policy and Economic Research Council (“PERC”), drew a distinction between “proven payment data,” including payments for utilities, media, and rent, and unproven “fringe data” or “unstructured data,” including information from social media. Turner, along with a number of other panelists, believed that reporting proven payment data would be beneficial for consumers. Francis Creighton, President and CEO of the Consumer Data Industry Association (“CDIA”), noted that consumers are currently experiencing the “downside” impacts of the reporting of negative information about the non-payment or late payment of obligations for utilities, media, and rental housing, but are not receiving the “upside” benefits of reporting on the positive payment histories on those recurring obligations. Consumer advocates, such as Ed Mierzwinski of U.S. Public Interest Research Group (“PIRG”), expressed skepticism regarding the use of certain alternative data, such as utility payment data, and the ability of the industry to ensure the accuracy of such data.
  • (2) Role of Technology: Mithal also noted that there was some consensus that technology, including Artificial Intelligence (“AI”) and pattern recognition, may improve the quality and accuracy of consumer report information. Mithal stated that there appeared to be less consensus regarding the use of technology in data matching, with some panelists expressing the view that manual review is still necessary to ensure maximum possible accuracy. Mithal also noted that some panelists expressed the view that the CFPB should exercise its supervisory authority to examine CRAs and furnishers’ use of technology in consumer reporting.
    • In general, industry panelists spoke favorably about the prospects for AI and other technologies. For example, Eric Ellman, Senior Vice President, Public Policy and Legal Affairs at CDIA, discussed the use of technology in dispute intake, including filtering credit repair disputes from legitimate consumer disputes. Chi Chi Wu of the National Consumer Law Center expressed skepticism about relying on AI and other technologies for data matching and dispute investigations.
  • (3) Accuracy: Mithal concluded by discussing the accuracy of consumer reporting more generally, and stated that some panelists believe that the regulators should issue specific guidance in this area. Mithal also noted that panelists discussed both the importance of data accuracy with respect to consumer reports and furnished data, including ways in which CRAs may oversee furnishers.
    • In general, industry panelists pointed to substantial improvements made in recent years with regard to the accuracy of consumer reports, with repeated emphasis on improvements brought about by the National Consumer Assistance Plan (“NCAP”), an outgrowth of a multi-state attorney general settlement with the three nationwide CRAs in May 2015. Turner discussed improvements between the early and more recent studies of data accuracy. Consumer advocates stressed continuing problems with data accuracy, including the reappearance of derogatory information on consumer reports.


Continue Reading FTC and CFPB Host Workshop on Accuracy in Consumer Reporting

On October 29, 2019, the House Committee on Financial Services held a hearing entitled “Financial Services and the LGBTQ+ Community: A Review of Discrimination in Lending and Housing.”  Witnesses at the hearing included Harper Jean Tobin, the Director of Policy at the National Center for Transgender Equality, Michael Adams, CEO of SAGE (Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders), and Alphonso David, President of the Human Rights Campaign.

Continue Reading House Committee Holds Hearing on Financial Services and the LGBTQ+ Community

On September 17, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) Director Kathleen Kraninger sent letters to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stating that the CFPB “has determined that the for-cause removal provision of the Consumer Financial Protection Act . . . is unconstitutional.”  The Bureau now affirms that the for-cause removal provision

On September 5, 2019, the Treasury Department (“Treasury”) and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”) released complementary proposals that, if implemented, would result in extensive changes to federal regulation of housing finance.  The plans respond to a Presidential Memorandum of March 27, 2019, directing Treasury and HUD to develop housing reform proposals consistent with the goals that the memorandum sets out.

Among other things, under the Treasury Plan, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (two government-sponsored enterprises or “GSEs”) would be recapitalized by the private sector, leave their conservatorships, and have more limited powers in the mortgage market.  The GSEs would be re-chartered with a charter issued by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (“FHFA”), the agency that now oversees and acts as conservator for the GSEs.  This charter would also be available to other guarantors of mortgage-backed securities (“MBS”).  The plan recommends that the implicit guarantees of the GSEs be replaced by an explicit paid-for guarantee from Ginnie Mae of the repayment of principal and interest on qualifying MBS collateralized by eligible conventional mortgage loans.  Ginnie Mae, a government corporation within HUD, already provides such a guarantee to MBS collateralized by affordable loans issued under various government programs.

The HUD Plan urges that the Federal Housing Administration (“FHA”) be restructured as an autonomous government corporation within HUD and that FHA’s various programs be revised in several respects.

The two plans include well over 100 recommendations for legislative and regulatory changes.  While several of the proposals would require Congressional action, many may be effected through rulemaking or other agency action.  Whatever the form in which the proposed changes are implemented, the recommendations are complex, and the impact of the changes will very much depend on the particulars of new legislation or regulation.

Details of the two plans follow after the jump.
Continue Reading Treasury and HUD Propose Housing Finance Reforms