The CFPB published a policy statement in today’s Federal Register to announce that, going forward, it is establishing a new “Compliance Aids” designation for certain Bureau guidance.  The policy statement becomes applicable on February 1, 2020.

In the Supplementary Information accompanying the Policy Statement, the Bureau gives examples of compliance resources it has previously released.  These examples are “small entity compliance guides, instructional guides for disclosure forms, executive summaries, summaries of regulation changes, factsheets, flow charts, compliance checklists, frequently asked questions, and summary tables.”

The policy statement indicates that the new “Compliance Aids” designation will be used for “materials that are similar to previous compliance resources.”  The designation is intended to provide “greater clarity regarding the legal status and role of these materials.”  The policy statement indicates that:

  • The Bureau will not use Compliance Aids “to make decisions that bind regulated entities.”
  • Compliance Aids, “unlike the Bureau’s regulations and official interpretations,” are not “rules” under the Administrative Procedure Act.  (The Bureau states that the three main categories of “rules” are “substantive rules, interpretive rules, and general statements of policy.”
  • Compliance Aids are intended to provide assistance to compliance professionals and others in understanding existing legal requirements (statutes and regulations) and may include suggestions for how to comply with such requirements.
  • Regulated entities are not required to comply with the Compliance Aids themselves, only with the underlying statutes and regulations.
  • When exercising its enforcement and supervisory discretion, the Bureau will not sanction, or ask a court to sanction, entities that reasonably rely on Compliance Aids.

The Bureau states that the policy statement “does not alter the status of materials that were issued before this policy statement, although the Bureau may reissue certain materials as Compliance Aids if it is in the public interest and as Bureau resources permit.”