The CFPB has rescinded seven policy statements issued from March 26 through June 3, 2020 that were intended to provide flexibility to financial institutions in meeting certain compliance requirements during the pandemic.  (The Bureau’s press release announcing the rescission of the seven policy statements also announced that the Bureau was rescinding its 2018 bulletin on supervisory communications and replacing it with a new bulletin.)  This action follows the Bureau’s rescission last month of its January 2020 policy statement, “Statement of Policy Regarding Prohibition on Abusive Acts or Practices.”   While the rescission of the January 2020 bulletin become effective upon its publication in the Federal Register, the rescissions of the seven policy statement and 2018 bulletin became effective yesterday, the day after they were announced by the Bureau.

The rescission of the policy statements was foreshadowed by Acting Director Uejio in his statement to Bureau staff which he shared in a February blog post.  In the statement, Mr. Uejio indicated that he planned to reverse policies of the Trump Administration “that weakened enforcement and supervision,” including by “rescind[ing] public statements conveying a relaxed approach to enforcement of the laws in our care.” The CFPB’s press release announcing the rescission of the seven policy statements includes the statement that “[w]ith the rescissions, the CFPB is providing notice that it intends to exercise the full scope of the supervisory and enforcement authority provided under the Dodd-Frank Act.”

The rescissions of the policy statements are set forth in notices to be published in the Federal Register.  The rescinded policy statements are:

In each of the rescission notices to be published in the Federal Register, the CFPB provides its rationale for why the flexibilities provided by the rescinded policy statement are no longer warranted.  Underlying all of the rescissions is the Bureau’s view that since it released the statements, the circumstances that prompted the statements have changed.  In the CFPB’s view, companies have had sufficient time to adapt to the pandemic and adjust their operations as needed to satisfy their compliance obligations.  To explain several of the rescissions, the Bureau points to companies’ adjustment of operations since March 2020 by, for example, shifting to remote modes of operation.  It also points to the rescission and modification by states and other jurisdictions of stay-at-home orders, stating that “the Bureau has learned that many entities have resumed some level of in-person operations and, in many instance combined with more robust capabilities, have demonstrated improved business continuity.”

The rescissions are clearly another example of Acting Director Uejio’s efforts to send the message that “there’s a new sheriff in town.”  All consumer financial services providers, not only those who have availed themselves of the flexibilities provided by the rescinded statements, should be responding to that message by reviewing their compliance practices to make sure their houses are in order.