In his prepared remarks for today’s Consumer Advisory Board meeting, Director Cordray discussed CFPB initiatives in four areas. In addition to the CFPB’s letter to the top retail credit card companies encouraging them to use zero-interest promotions instead of deferred-interest promotions and its new report on consumers transitioning to credit visibility, Director Cordray discussed the CFPB’s RFI on the small business lending market and its debt collection rulemaking.
Last month, in conjunction with a field hearing, the CFPB issued the RFI, together with a white paper on small business lending. In his remarks, Director Cordray revealed that, in response to requests for additional time to respond to the RFI (which currently has a July 14, 2017 comment deadline), the CFPB is extending the comment period by 60 days. He also indicated that the CFPB has “been hearing from congressional officials who want to see more progress made on [the Section 1071] rulemaking” and that the CFPB is “now moving forward.”
With regard to the CFPB’s debt collection rulemaking, Director Cordray discussed the debt collection proposals under consideration by the CFPB which it released last July in anticipation of convening a SBREFA panel. The coverage of the CFPB’s SBREFA proposals was limited to “debt collectors” that are subject to the FDCPA. When it issued the proposals, the CFPB indicated that it expected to convene a second SBREFA panel in the “next several months” to address a separate rulemaking for creditors and others engaged in debt collection not covered by the proposals.
In his remarks, Director Cordray described the proposals as focused on three primary issues: “mak[ing] sure that collectors are contacting the right consumers, for the right amount”; “mak[ing] sure that consumers clearly understand the debt collection process and their rights”; and “mak[ing] sure that consumers are treated with dignity and respect, particularly in their communications with collectors.” He indicated that when the CFPB evaluated “the feedback we received on the proposals under consideration” (presumably the report of the SBREFA panel on the input received from the small entity representatives who met with the panel), it became clear that “[w]riting rules to make sure debt collectors have the right information about their debts is best handled by considering solutions from first-party creditors and third-party collectors at the same time.” He observed that “[f]irst-party creditors like banks and other lenders create the information about the debt, and they may use it to collect the debt themselves. Or they may provide it to companies that collect the debt on their behalf or buy the debt outright. Either way, those actually collecting on the debts need to have the correct and accurate information.”
He commented that because “breaking the different aspects of the informational issues into pieces in two distinct rules was shaping up to be troublesome in various ways,” the CFPB has decided to write a market-wide rule in which it will “consolidate all the issues of ‘right consumer, right amount’ into the separate rule we will be developing for first-party creditors, which will now cover these intertwined issues for third-party collectors and debt buyers as well.” He indicated that this approach will allow the CFPB “to move forward more quickly with a proposed rule focused on the remaining issues” concerning disclosures by debt collectors and how consumers are treated by debt collectors and that “[o]nce we proceed with a proposed rule on these issues, we will return to the subject of collecting the right amount from the right consumer, which is a key objective regardless of who is collecting the debt.”