FALL 2012 STATEMENT OF REGULATORY PRIORITIES
CFPB Purposes And Functions
The Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (CFPB) was established as an independent bureau of the Federal Reserve System by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Pub. L. 111-203, 124 Stat. 1376) (Dodd-Frank Act). Pursuant to the Dodd-Frank Act, the CFPB has rulemaking, supervisory, enforcement, and other authorities relating to consumer financial products and services. Among these are the consumer financial protection authorities that transferred to the CPFB from seven Federal agencies on the designated transfer date, July 21, 2011. These authorities include the ability to issue regulations under more than a dozen Federal consumer financial laws.
As provided in section 1021 of the Dodd-Frank Act, the purpose of the CFPB is to implement and enforce Federal consumer financial laws consistently for the purpose of ensuring that all consumers have access to markets for consumer financial products and services and that such markets are fair, transparent, and competitive. The CFPB is authorized to exercise its authorities for the purpose of ensuring that:
(1) Consumers are provided with timely and understandable information to make responsible decisions about transactions involving consumer financial products and services;
(2) Consumers are protected from unfair, deceptive, or abusive acts and practices and from discrimination;
(3) Outdated, unnecessary, or unduly burdensome regulations concerning consumer financial products and services are regularly identified and addressed in order to reduce unwarranted regulatory burdens;
(4) Federal consumer financial law is enforced consistently, without regard to status as a depository institution, in order to promote fair competition; and
(5) Markets for consumer financial products and services operate transparently and efficiently to facilitate access and innovation.
Immediate Regulatory Priorities
The CFPB is working on a wide range of initiatives to address issues in markets for consumer financial products and services that are not reflected in this notice because the Unified Agenda is limited to rulemaking activities. With regard to the exercise of its rulemaking authorities, as reflected in the CFPB's semiannual regulatory agenda, the CFPB's immediate focus continues to be on completing various mortgage-related rulemakings that are mandated by the Dodd-Frank Act. In addition, the CFPB is working on a number of procedural rules relating to the stand-up of the CFPB as an independent regulatory agency.
The semiannual regulatory agenda provides more detailed descriptions of individual rulemaking projects. The CFPB remains particularly focused on meeting the rulemaking deadlines set forth in Title XIV of the Dodd-Frank Act, in order to provide certainty to consumers, financial services providers, and the broader economy. Among the rules the CFPB is working to complete action on in 2013 are the following:
Mortgage Rules Implementing Title XIV Provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act:
Completion of Other Pending Rulemakings
Other priority rulemakings that the CFPB is working to complete in 2013 include the following:
As the CFPB completes work on a number of pending rulemakings, it is in the process of analyzing and prioritizing additional projects. For instance, the CFPB expects to accelerate work on other rulemakings that are mandated under the Dodd-Frank Act, such as amendments to the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) to require creditors to collect and report certain additional lending data. The CFPB also expects to continue working on an interagency basis to complete rulemakings related to appraisals and implementation of the Expedited Funds Availability Act.
In addition, the CFPB anticipates further rulemaking with regard to its nonbank supervision program and "larger participants." In addition to its supervisory authority over nonbanks participating in certain markets enumerated in the Dodd-Frank Act, the CFPB may supervise "larger participants" in other markets for consumer financial products or services, as the CFPB defines by rule. The CFPB published its first "larger participant" rule, relating to consumer reporting, in July 2012. In October 2012, the CFPB published its second rule of this type, defining larger participants of a market for consumer debt collection. The CFPB anticipates publishing a notice of proposed rulemaking and a final rule in 2013, for the third in a series of larger participant rulemakings.
The CFPB is also assessing ways to fulfill its mission to reduce unwarranted regulatory burdens on industry. In December 2011, the CFPB issued a request for information on this topic seeking broad stakeholder input on potential projects to streamline, modernize, and harmonize regulations that it had inherited from other federal agencies. The notice suggested several possible projects, ranging from current requirements involving automated teller machine (ATM) physical disclosures, to paper annual privacy notices provided by financial institutions to consumers, to the provision of electronic disclosures to consumers. More broadly, the notice sought comment on ways to identify/prioritize projects, ways the CFPB could help facilitate implementation and compliance efforts, data on burdens, and ways to identify practical measures the CFPB could take to promote or remove obstacles to responsible innovation in consumer financial services markets. The CFPB received approximately 166 comments over a several month period, and has already begun to consider some of the suggestions received in the development of its rules.
For instance, streamlining, as discussed in the CFPB's December 2011 notice, was one consideration, among others, in the CFPB's rulemaking referenced above on the changes to the ability to pay provisions of Regulation Z with regard to the Credit Card Act. In addition, in the TILA-RESPA integrated disclosure proposed rule, referenced above, the CFPB solicited feedback on several items discussed in the CFPB's December 2011 streamlining request for information to determine the most effective method of addressing certain issues. For example, the CFPB solicited feedback on modifying the thresholds applicable to the definition of "creditor" in Regulation Z. The CFPB also believes that the HMDA rulemaking provides an opportunity to identify ways to reduce implementation burdens and will increase overall efficiency if it is synchronized with industry data standards and other regulatory initiatives. The CFPB is considering additional streamlining initiatives in 2013.
Finally, the CFPB is also in the process of assessing information gathered in the past year concerning a variety of consumer financial products and services besides mortgage loans to determine whether rulemakings are warranted to address other markets. In particular, the CFPB has issued a number of requests for information, an advance notice of proposed rulemaking, and congressionally mandated and other reports in the past year concerning a wide variety of markets and consumer financial issues. Other topics have come to the CFPB's attention in connection with enforcement actions by the CFPB or other regulators. A sample of these issues and markets include:
Requests for Information:
Request for Information on Consumer Financial Products and Services Offered to Servicemembers, 76 FR 54998 (September 6, 2011)
Requests for Information Regarding Private Education Loans and Private Educational Lenders, 76 FR 71329 (November 17, 2011)
Impacts of Overdraft Programs on Consumers, 77 FR12031 (February 28, 2012)
Request for Comment on Payday Lending Hearing Transcript, 77 FR 16817 (March 22, 2012)
Request for Information Regarding Scope, Methods, and Data Sources for Conducting Study of Pre-Dispute Arbitration Agreements, 77 FR 25148 (April 27, 2012)
Requests for Information Regarding Complaints From Private Education Loan Borrowers, 77 FR 35659 (June 14, 2012)
Requests for Information Regarding Senior Financial Exploitation, 77 FR 36491 (June 19, 2012)
Consumer Use of Reverse Mortgages, 77 FR 39222 (July 2, 2012)
Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemakings
Electronic Funds Transfer (Regulation E) (general purpose reloadable prepaid cards), 77 FR 30923, May 24, 2012
Fair Debt Collection Practices Act - CFPB Annual Report 2012 (March 20, 2012)
Reverse Mortgages, Report to Congress, June 28, 2012
Private Student Loans, August 29, 2012
Analysis of Differences between Consumer- and Creditor-Purchased Credit Scores, September 2012
In some cases, the CFPB expects to follow up on these earlier efforts through conducting additional research in 2013. For example, the CFPB's request for information relating to mandatory arbitration was designed to assist the CFPB in preparing to conduct a congressionally mandated study on the topic, which in turn may provide a basis under the Dodd-Frank Act for certain rulemaking activity. The CFPB also expects to publish studies and other reports to describe what it has learned on particular topics. In other cases, the CFPB may conclude that rulemaking activity is warranted based on the research and input that have been received to date. For example, the CFPB expects to publish a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking concerning general purpose reloadable prepaid cards, in follow up to its earlier Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. However, the CFPB is still determining the scope and timing of the proposal.
The CFPB expects to intensify its work in analyzing and prioritizing other potential rulemaking projects as it completes work on the January 2013 mortgage regulations and other pending projects described above and in the regulatory agenda. The CFPB anticipates updating its spring 2013 agenda to reflect the results of this process.
This Statement of Regulatory Priorities (Statement) supplements the semiannual regulatory agenda that is being published contemporaneously. The CFPB is submitting this Statement on a voluntary basis. It is also available from RegInfo.gov.