CFPB Releases Special Supervisory Highlights on Response to COVID

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has released a special edition of its Supervisory Highlights report, detailing information it received from the entities it regulates about how they have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic.

When the pandemic hit last March, the CFPB re-scheduled about half of its supervisory examinations and replaced them with something called Prioritized Assessments. Those assessments are “higher-level inquiries than traditional examinations,” the agency explained in the report. The requests sought to obtain information from those entities in regards to how they were responding to the pandemic and how they were working with consumers who may have been affected by it.

In the report, the CFPB breaks out the information it received from debt collectors that participated in the prioritized assessments. During the review period, which was between May and September 2020, collectors reported increases in being able to contact consumers and in the payments they received, which were chalked up to more consumers being at home and reducing their spending habits, as well as stimulus programs that may have provided forbearance programs or money to consumers.

Among some of the issues that may have impacted consumers during that period, it was reported that there were delays in suspending wage garnishments in some cases, where collectors made “additional efforts” to contact employers and provide refunds for wages that were garnished after the practice was suspended.

That many states implemented measures to prohibit collectors from imposing new attachments to bank accounts or wages caused “significant complexities and a rapidly shifting landscape of state restrictions” that could post continued compliance risks to debt collectors, according to the report.

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