Two notices with requests for comments recently published by the CFPB present prime opportunities for banks and other regulated institutions to engage with the CFPB not only to positively impact the CFPB’s processes and procedures, but also to demonstrate that banks seek to develop a relationship of cooperation and collaboration with the CFPB.
On October 31, the CFPB published a notice, 76 FR 67128, which seeks comments on the CFPB’s generic procedures for: (1) intake, processing, and referral of consumer complaints and inquiries; (2) information-sharing with stakeholders; and (3) complaint monitoring. The CFPB expects to begin implementing these activities over the course of the next three years. However, the CFPB recognizes that these activities will require the collection of a substantial volume of data and a significant investment of time. Indeed, the CFPB’s estimates show that it expects to receive over 3 million consumer complaints and inquiries annually, with 2.5 million complaints coming through the web complaint and inquiry intake process. The CFPB further estimates that it will take 418,300 hours to process all the complaints and inquiries received each year, assuming an average of 8 minutes per response. Therefore, the CFPB seeks feedback on how to streamline the collection and processing of this information.
Thereafter, on November 2, 2011, the CFPB published a notice, 76 FR 67668, which seeks comments on the development and testing of various model forms, disclosures, and similar materials aimed at informing consumers about complex financial information relating to consumer financial products. The CFPB stated in the notice that its objective is to “help identify, evaluate, and refine specific features of the content or design of the model forms, disclosures, tools, and other similar related materials to maximize communication effectiveness while minimizing compliance burden.”
Both of these notices present opportunities for banks and other regulated institutions to engage with the CFPB as the CFPB develops its processes and procedures in a manner that will encourage a positive working relationship of cooperation and collaboration. Banks and other regulated entities should take this opportunity to express their thoughts on the ways that the CFPB can achieve its goals in these areas. Banks regularly deal with and process numerous consumer complaints. They have developed efficient, in-house collection and processing procedures that may be useful to the CFPB. Moreover, given the CFPB’s emphasis on prioritizing the development of new model forms and consumer-oriented disclosures, it makes sense for banks to be as active as possible in developing those materials to ensure that the materials can be implemented in a cost-effective and efficient manner, once the development phase is complete.