Pre-Mulvaney bureau agenda cites proposed rules ahead on overdraft protection, debt collections

Rules on overdraft protection and communications in debt collections, as well as efforts to identify and relieve regulatory burden for financial services providers and small businesses, are all on the agenda prepared for the remainder of 2018 by the federal consumer protection watchdog.

The agenda was developed before the leadership change at the agency in November, when Mick Mulvaney was named acting director.

In filings with the Federal Register Thursday, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) outlined its planned actions for the remainder of 2018. The agenda, current as of Sept. 28, was developed to cover the remainder of 2017 and for the first nine months of 2018 (up to October).

CFPB said in the filings that its next agenda will be published this spring, with updates through fall 2018. According to reports, the agenda does not reflect the CFPB’s rulemaking plans under the Trump administration.

Among the items the agency identifies for action in the coming months in its agenda:

  • Overdraft programs: The bureau said it is preparing for a “potential rulemaking” regarding the overdraft programs on checking accounts, citing several years of research leading it to believe that “there are consumer protection concerns with regard to these programs.” The agency asserted that the market for the programs does not appear to be competitive and that consumers “do not shop based on overdraft fee amounts and policies.” Further, the bureau noted that substantially different “opt-in rates” for the programs exist across different depository institutions (despite widespread use of disclosure forms). The agency noted that its “supervisory and enforcement work indicates that some institutions are aggressively steering consumers to opt in.”
  • Debt collections: A proposed rule is expected to be released concerning Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) communications practices and consumer disclosures. “The Bureau is also concerned that certain lenders’ payment collection practices are causing substantial harm to consumers, including substantial unexpected fees and heightened risk of losing their checking accounts,” the agenda states.
  • Supervision of non-bank entities: The agenda notes the bureau is “continuing rulemaking activities” to ensure “meaningful supervision” of non-bank financial services providers in order to create “a more level playing field” for depository and non-depository institutions. The bureau placed specific emphasis on developing a proposed rule to define “larger participants” in the markets for personal loans, such as consumer installment and vehicle title loans.
  • Remittances, mortgage rules: The agency plans to publish five-year assessments on the effectiveness of its rules in these two areas; the remittance transfers rule report is expected in October, and the report on mortgage rules in January 2019.
  • Review of existing rules: The agency began work last fall to review existing regulations that it inherited from other agencies through the transfer of authorities under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 (Dodd-Frank Act). “The Bureau expects to focus primarily on subparts B and G of Regulation Z, which implement TILA with respect to open-end credit generally and credit cards in particular,” the agency stated. “As part of this general effort, the Bureau is considering rules to modernize the Bureau’s database of credit card agreements to reduce burden on issuers that submit credit card agreements to the Bureau and make the database more useful for consumers and the general public.”
  • Electronic funds transfer: The agency is considering modernizing Regulation E (Electronic Fund Transfer Act, or EFTA) to address issues of concern in connection with data aggregators.
  • Regulatory burden: The agency has launched an internal task force to “coordinate and bolster the agency’s continuing effort to fulfill its mandate to identify and relieve regulatory burdens, including with regard to small businesses,” the agency stated. “The task force is currently engaged in reviewing ideas for reduction of regulatory burden that have been suggested by Bureau stakeholders.”

CFPB Semiannual regulatory agenda (prepared September, 2017)