Companies that are not sure about how to comply with regulatory requirements have a new authoritative source they can go to in order to get advice: the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The CFPB announced yesterday the creation of a new Advisory Opinion program in which it will publicly issue guidance on specific topics raised by companies in the financial services industry. But based on the criteria for issuing an opinion, it might be unlikely that the credit and collection industry will see any until the CFPB releases its final debt collection rule.
Advice and guidance will be provided in four main areas:
- Ensuring consumers are provided with timely and understandable information to make responsible decisions
- Helping identify outdated, unnecessary or unduly burdensome regulations in order to reduce regulatory burdens
- Providing consistency in enforcement of federal consumer financial laws in order to promote fair competition
- Ensuring markets for consumer financial products and services operate transparently and efficiently to facilitate access and innovation
Requests for an advisory opinion should be emailed to [email protected].
A couple of areas that the CFPB advised against asking for an opinion are “issues that are the subject of an ongoing investigation or enforcement action or the subject of an ongoing or planned rulemaking,” it said in a release announcing the program. That would likely include anything covered in the CFPB’s debt collection rule, the release of which the industry is anxiously awaiting.
“Additionally, initial factors weighing for the appropriateness of an AO include: that the interpretive issue has been noted during prior Bureau examinations as one that might benefit from additional regulatory clarity; that the issue is one of substantive importance or impact or one whose clarification would provide significant benefit; and/or that the issue concerns an ambiguity that the Bureau has not previously addressed through an interpretive rule or other authoritative source,” the CFPB said in its release.