On February 4, 2022, the FTC sent its annual letter to the CFPB reporting on the FTC’s activities related to the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) and Regulation B.  The Bureau includes the FTC’s annual letter in its own annual report to Congress on the ECOA.

The FTC has authority to enforce the ECOA and Regulation B with respect to nonbank financial service providers within its jurisdiction.  The letter notes that, consistent with the Dodd-Frank Act, the FTC continues to coordinate certain ECOA enforcement, rulemaking, and other activities with the CFPB pursuant to a memorandum of understanding with the Bureau.

With regard to fair lending enforcement, the letter highlights only one development, the filing of an amicus brief jointly with the CFPB, FTC, DOJ, and Federal Reserve Board in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Fralish v. Bank of America One, N.A.  The brief urges the court to reverse a district court ruling that an individual who had already received credit from the defendant and who was not currently applying to the defendant for credit was not an “applicant” for purposes of the ECOA’s adverse action notice requirement.  According to the agencies, the ECOA’s text, history, and purpose make clear that the ECOA’s protections extend to existing borrowers.

With regard to fair lending research and policy development, the letter discusses (1) a report issued by the FTC in 2021 that looked at differences in the way that fraud and other consumer problems affect communities of color, (2) the FTC Military Task Force’s continuation of its work on military consumer protection issues and the FTC staff’s role as a liaison to the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Legal Assistance for Military Personnel which supports initiatives to deliver legal assistance and services to servicemembers, veterans, and their families, and (3) the FTC’s continuation of its (a) service as a member of the Interagency Task Force on Fair Lending along with the CFPB, DOJ, HUD and the federal banking agencies, and (b) participation in the Interagency Fair Lending Methodologies Working Group which consists of staff members from the FTC, CFPB, DOJ, HUD, federal banking agencies, and the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

With regard to fair lending consumer and business education, the letter discusses the FTC’s “efforts to provide education on significant issues to which Regulation B pertains.”  The efforts described consist of one blog post for consumers published by the FTC for consumers and two blog posts published for businesses.