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  • CFPB Releases Report on Consumers’ Overdraft Experiences

    Consumer Finance

    On November 21, the CFPB released a report summarizing findings from a qualitative study about consumers’ experiences with overdraft programs. The study consisted of one-on-one interviews by telephone with 88 individual consumers from May 2014 through June 2014 (the report does not comment on the three-year gap between the interviews and the release). According to the CFPB, the study was not designed to identify systematic trends but instead to provide an in-depth review of consumers’ experiences. The report concluded that consumers need a wide range of educational resources to support the varying experiences and perceptions they have with overdraft services. For example, the report notes that while some consumers commented on unexpected overdraft fees after miscalculating the timing of transaction processing, others noted their intentional use of overdraft options to make purchases or pay bills. The CFPB encouraged financial educators to develop their own overdraft resources with the awareness that consumers may use and interpret programs in varying ways and provided a list of CFPB resources available for use.

    Consumer Finance CFPB Overdraft Consumer Education

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  • CFPB Reports on Financial Institution Outreach to Limited English Proficient Consumers

    Consumer Finance

    On November 22, the CFPB released a report focusing on ways financial institutions can expand and improve services to Limited English Proficient consumers (LEP consumers) who often face challenges related to language access and financial literacy. According to findings in the report, LEP consumers often have trouble accessing and interpreting financial products and services, as well as difficulty completing financial documents, managing bank accounts, resolving problems, and accessing financial education. The Bureau’s report—which is compiled from information gathered in interviews with financial institutions, trade associations, nonprofit advocacy groups, and federal agencies, as well as secondary research—presents five common approaches used in the industry to address issues facing LEP consumers: (i) assessing the language needs of consumers; (ii) offering centralized technical support for translation and interpretation initiatives; (iii) developing systems to ensure accuracy of translations and interpretations; (iv) providing training for staff and contractors to ensure language and cultural competencies; and (v) offering platforms to interact with LEP consumers.

    The report follows the November 16 release of the CFPB’s final version of its Language Access Plan designed to continue efforts to provide non-English speaking persons access to its own programs and services, including offering translated consumer-facing brochures and handling complaints from consumers in multiple languages. (See previous InfoBytes coverage here.)

    Consumer Finance CFPB Consumer Education

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  • CFPB Requests Comments on Overdraft Disclosures; CFPB Announces Final Language Access Plan; Holds Ceiling at $12.00 for Allowable FCRA Charges

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On November 15, the CFPB published a request for comment on a proposal to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to conduct online testing of point of sale/ATM (POS/ATM) overdraft disclosure forms. In the request, the Bureau invited comments on, (i) “[w]hether the collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the Bureau, including whether the information will have practical utility”; (ii) “[t]he accuracy of the Bureau’s estimate of the burden of the collection of information, including the validity of the methods and the assumptions used”; (iii) “[w]ays to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected”; and (iv) “[w]ays to minimize the burden of the collection of information on respondents, including through the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology.” Comments must be received by January 16, 2018.

    On November 16, the CFPB released the final version of its Language Access Plan (Plan) to provide non-English speaking persons access to its programs and services. The Plan highlights two key language access functions of the Bureau: offering translated consumer-facing brochures and handling complaints from consumers in multiple languages. The Bureau originally proposed the Plan in 2014 (covered previously by InfoBytes). The final Plan is current as of November 13, 2017.

    CFPB also announced on November 16 that the maximum allowable charges for certain disclosures under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) will remain at the current level. Each year the original amount referenced in the FCRA must be readjusted (and rounded to the nearest fifty cents) based on the annual percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U). The amount for 2018, based on the annual percentage increase in the CPI-U, remains unchanged at $12.00.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance FCRA CFPB Consumer Finance Federal Register Consumer Education

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  • FDIC Chairman Speaks About Financial Inclusion

    Federal Issues

    On November 7, the Chairman of the FDIC, Martin J Gruenberg, addressed the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) in New York, New York regarding financial inclusion and expanding economic opportunity for the underbanked. In his speech, Gruenberg discussed the agency’s most recent report, FDIC National Survey of Unbanked and Underbanked Households, which found that nearly 27 percent of American households are unbanked or underbanked.  Gruenberg also highlighted the initiatives the agency has undertaken to address the results of this report, including (i) creating access to “Safe Accounts,” which are electronic transaction accounts with low costs; (ii) conducting research on mobile financial services and how technology can lead to more sustainable banking relationships; and (iii) continuing financial education initiatives with a particular focus on youth savings.

    Federal Issues FDIC Consumer Finance Mobile Banking Consumer Education

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  • OCC to Host Workshop for Bank Directors in December; FDIC, CFPB Announce Webinar to Discuss Financial Education Resources

    Federal Issues

    On October 23, the OCC announced it will host a workshop December 4-6 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, for directors, senior management team members, and other key executives of OCC-supervised national community banks and federal savings associations. The “Building Blocks for Directors” workshop will (i) focus on the duties and cores responsibilities of directors and management; (ii) discuss major laws and regulations; and (iii) provide insight on the examination process.

    Also on October 23, the FDIC and CFPB announced they will co-host a webinar on November 15 to discuss financial education resources designed to help people with disabilities make informed financial decisions. Topics of discussion will include recent enhancements to the FDIC’s Money Smart curriculum and the CFPB’s Your Money, Your Goals toolkit.

    Federal Issues OCC CFPB Bank Supervision Consumer Education

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  • FTC to Host Military Consumer Financial Workshop

    Lending

    On July 19, the FTC will host a free public workshop in San Antonio, entitled 2017 Military Consumer Financial Workshop: Protecting Those Who Protect Our Nation, to educate military consumers on financial issues and scams that they may face.

    The workshop with consist of five panel discussions led by FTC personnel as well as military consumer advocates, attorneys, legal services clinics, industry representatives, and government agencies. The panels will include the following topics:

    • auto purchase, financing, and leasing;
    • lending including student loans and installment loans;
    • debt collection;
    • legal rights and remedies; and
    • financial literacy and capability.

    Additionally, the workshop will include presentations on online promotions and protecting sensitive information, as well as encouraging financial readiness along with financial resources for military consumers.

    The FTC will hold the workshop at Trinity University in the Chapman Auditorium beginning at 8:30 am and preregistration is not required.

    Lending FTC Auto Finance Student Lending Debt Collection Installment Loans Consumer Finance Consumer Education Financial Literacy

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  • Cordray Discusses Youth Financial Education, CFPB Responsibilities

    Consumer Finance

    Recently, CFPB Director Richard Cordray delivered prepared remarks at the Financial Literacy and Education Commission Meeting in Washington, DC on May 24 and at the People and Places Conference in Arlington, VA on May 31.

    Financial Literacy and Education Commission (Commission). Coordinated by the Treasury Department’s Office of Financial Security, the Commission presented results from the 2015 Programme for International Student Assessment study on financial education in the U.S. and how it compares to other countries. Cordray’s opening remarks stressed the-importance of providing financial resources and educational tools empowering young people and outlined efforts the CFPB has underway, such as the Youth Financial Education resource page, the online Money as You Grow tool, and other community outreach education programs.

    People and Places Conference. A keynote speaker at the conference, Cordray outlined the three main components of the CFPB’s work: (i) supervision and enforcement; (ii) implementing common-sense rules; and (iii) hearing and addressing consumer complaints to help keep companies accountable. Regarding supervisory and enforcement actions, Cordray stated that the Bureau’s activities serve to help change institutions’ practices for the better by (i) providing consistent supervision; (ii) initiating public enforcement actions to serve as a deterrent to “bad behavior”; and (iii) upholding “laws that ban unfair, deceptive, or abusive acts or practices.” Cordray asserted that by setting expectations financial institutions must meet in their own compliance work, similar violations can be avoided. Cordray spoke next about the need to establish “common-sense rules of the road” in order to protect consumers. He used the mortgage industry as an example of how the Bureau responded to Congress’s directive for developing “much-needed reforms” by “implementing rules to govern underwriting, servicing, and loan originator compensation” and “temper[ed] these regulations for small creditors so as to ease regulatory burdens on community banks and credit unions.” Furthermore, Cordray stated the Bureau’s ability to receive and process consumer complaints is crucial to identifying, understanding, and prioritizing problems.

    Consumer Finance CFPB Consumer Education Mortgages Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

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  • Florida Attorney General Rolls Out Military Consumer Protection Program; CFPB Publishes Annual Servicemember Report

    Consumer Finance

    On May 17, Attorney General Pam Bondi announced a new consumer protection program designed to spread awareness and help prevent deceptive business practices affecting military and veteran communities. The Military and Veterans Assistance Program (MVAP) will provide resources and information to consumers on emerging scams and other consumer protection related issues, as well as encourage open communication among local, state, and federal partners to help ensure complaints are handled appropriately.

    On May 16, the CFPB’s Office of Servicemember Affairs (OSA) published its fifth annual servicemember report, The Office of Servicemember Affairs: Charting our course through the military lifecycle, and a follow-up blog post outlining the work the office has conducted over the past five years and the work it intends to do in the future. The structure of the report—designed to be presented within the construct of the “military lifecycle”—presents the ways that “many common and some uniquely-military consumer issues . . . fit within that continuum.” Under the Dodd-Frank Act, OSA monitors servicemember complaints about consumer financial products or services and coordinates with the efforts of federal and state agencies to improve measures and provide assistance. As of April 1, 2017, the OSA reports that it has handled approximately 74,800 complaints submitted by servicemembers, veterans, and their families since July 2011, of which 42 percent related to debt collection, 18 percent to mortgages, and 11 percent to credit reporting. In total, the OSA claims it has provided approximately $3.3 million in monetary relief to military consumers who submitted complaints to the CFPB.

    Consumer Finance State AG Consumer Education Servicemembers

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  • FTC Launches New Website for Small Businesses, Provides Resources to Avoid Scams and Cyberattacks

    Privacy, Cyber Risk & Data Security

    On May 9, the FTC announced the launch of its new website—ftc.gov/SmallBusiness—designed to provide useful information so small businesses can protect their networks and customer data from scams and cyberattacks. The website offers specific guidance such as the Small Business Computer Security Basics guide, which shares computer security basics to help companies: (i) protect their files and devices; (ii) train employees to think twice before sharing the business’s account information; (iii) keep their wireless networks protected; and (iv) respond to data breaches. Information on other cyber threats such as ransomware and phishing schemes that target small businesses is also provided. According to the FTC, the U.S. Small Business Administration reports that “there are more than 28 million small businesses nationwide” that are at risk, many of which lack the resources larger companies have to spend on cybersecurity. Further, the FTC noted that Symantec Corp. found that “the percentage of spear-phishing attacks targeting small business rose dramatically from 18 percent to 43 percent between 2011 and 2015.”

    Privacy/Cyber Risk & Data Security FTC Consumer Education

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  • CFPB Releases “Core Outcomes” for Financial Empowerment Programs

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On April 27, the CFPB announced in a blog post its release of a core set of financial outcomes designed to help human services organizations integrate financial empowerment and capability initiatives into their programs. Strategies include implementing financial education tools and financial counseling or coaching. In its April report, Tracking Success in Financial Capability and Empowerment Programs, the Bureau identified the following five core outcomes to help consumers improve their financial capabilities: (i) planning and goals; (ii) savings; (iii) bill payment; (iv) credit profile; and (v) financial well-being. According to the report, which assists the financial empowerment field in encouraging commonality in outcomes, core outcomes are designed to:

    • “help inform and guide service delivery organizations and those who design, fund, or evaluate service programs as they assess or document the value of integrating financial capability and empowerment strategies into the delivery of human services programs”;
    • “provide a suggested core set of common outcomes to measure for the financial empowerment field”;
    • “augment, not displace, current programmatic outcomes and accommodate a broad range of different program types”; and
    • “help provide consistency across programs by creating a common framework and language for demonstrating success for the provision of financial empowerment services as an element of other human services programs.”

    According to the Bureau’s Office of Financial Empowerment, it began identifying common core outcomes with input from multiple financial empowerment practitioners and researchers to “improve the financial well-being of “lower-income and economically vulnerable consumers.”

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Consumer Finance CFPB Consumer Education

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