Kraninger Marks First Year As Director Of The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Kraninger Marks First Year As Director Of The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
11.12.2019 04:27 am

Kraninger Marks First Year As Director Of The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Financial

Today, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Kathleen L. Kraninger made the following statement regarding her Dec. 11 one year anniversary leading the Bureau:

“It is an honor and privilege to serve and protect American consumers,” said Director Kraninger.  “In this last year we’ve greatly enhanced consumer protection by harnessing the resources provided by Congress to be more effective and comprehensively utilized.” “I commend the Bureau employees who work tirelessly to achieve our mission.  We will continue to use all of our tools to not only go after bad actors that break the law, but also to prevent harm in the first place by building a culture of compliance throughout the financial system.  This culture of compliance can only be built by having smart and clear rules of the road as well as a robust supervisory examination process.  I look forward to our continued work in the next four years on behalf of American consumers.”

During her first year, Director Kraninger met with over 800 consumers, consumer groups, state and local government officials, military personnel, financial institutions, academics, non-profits, and former and current Bureau advisors, and traveled to 17 states.

In the first year of Director Kraninger’s leadership, the Bureau’s work has included:

Providing Clear Rules of The Road Through Rulemaking

  • Issued the first proposed rule to implement the requirements and prohibitions applicable to debt collectors under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) since it was passed in 1977; 
  • Released Notices of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on Payday Lending to delay the compliance date and to rescind requirements that lenders make certain underwriting determinations before issuing payday, single-payment vehicle title, and longer-term balloon payment loans and issued a final rule to delay the compliance date;
  • Created system for prepaid issuers to submit account agreements in advance of the April 1, 2019 effective date of the Bureau’s Prepaid Rule;
  • Issued Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) on Property Assessed Clean Energy Financing as part of implementing the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act;
  • Requested public comment on an assessment related to TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure Rule (TRID). The Bureau intends to address, among other things, the TRID Rule’s effectiveness in meeting the purpose and objectives of Title X of the Dodd-Frank Act and rule;
  • Issued an assessment of the effectiveness of the Ability-to-Repay and Qualified Mortgage Rule and of the RESPA Mortgage Servicing Rule;
  • Issued a policy for conducting under Section 610 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act reviews of rules that are having a substantial impact on a significant number of small entities and completed the first review under the policy;
  • Issued an interpretive rule on Screening and Training Requirements for Mortgage Loan Originators to provide clarity for financial institutions;
  • Issued 14 research reports, including a report on the Consumer Credit Card Marketplace, a report on third party debt collections, and two reports accompanying the release of the 2018 HMDA data;
  • Released an ANPR announcing the Bureau’s plans to allow the GSE QM Patch to expire in January 2021, or after an extension to facilitate a smooth and orderly transition from the patch, and requesting comments about possible amendments to the definition of Qualified Mortgage in the ATR/QM Rule in light of the expiration of the patch;
  • Published (jointly with the Federal Reserve Board) amendments to Regulation CC under the Expedited Funds Availability Act of 1987 (EFA) to implement a statutory requirement to adjust for inflation the amount of funds depository institutions must make available to customers;
  • Published 24 compliance aides and tools to facilitate compliance with Bureau rules and handled over 2,400 requests for individual guidance;
  • Published a revised No Action Letter (NAL) Policy;
  • Issued the first NAL (under the revised NAL Policy) in response to an application from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to HUD on behalf of more than 1,600 housing counseling agencies to facilitate lender funding for thousands of housing counselors; issued the first NAL Template for mortgage lenders to apply for similar NALs for the same purpose;
  • Published a revised Policy to Encourage Trial Disclosure Programs (TDP) Policy, which permits companies to conduct in-market testing of innovative consumer disclosures designed to improve upon existing disclosures;
  • Published a new Compliance Assistance Sandbox (CAS) Policy to enable testing of a financial product or service where there is regulatory uncertainty. After the Bureau evaluates the product or service for compliance with relevant law, an approved applicant that complies in good faith with the terms of the approval will have a “safe harbor” from liability for specified conduct during the testing period.  Approvals under the CAS Policy will provide protection from liability under the Truth in Lending Act, the Electronic Fund Transfer Act, or the Equal Credit Opportunity Act;
  • Launched the American Consumer Financial Innovation Network (ACFIN), a bipartisan network of federal and state regulators to facilitate innovation through coordination;
  • Issued a rule to implement the HMDA-related provisions of the Economic Growth Regulatory Reform and Consumer Protection Act, and to extend for two years a temporary increase in the loan volume reporting threshold for open-end lines of credit; issued proposed rules to increase the permanent loan volume reporting thresholds for closed-end mortgage loans and open-end lines of lines of credit; issued an ANPR to assist in the development of proposed rules related to certain data points added or revised by the 2015 HMDA Rule; issued final policy guidance explaining how the Bureau intends to modify publicly disclosed HMDA data to protect consumer privacy; and, released the 2018 HMDA data applying the final policy guidance;
  • Implemented measures to streamline and improve the Bureau’s rulemaking process, such as providing materials in connection with rulemaking proposals that are easier for the public to understand, increasing the use of Requests for Information and an ANPR to obtain public input before commencing a rulemaking, and posting all comments submitted in rulemakings to the public docket;
  • Implemented enhancements to the Bureau’s advisory committee charters, including: expanding the focus of the meetings to cover broad policy matters; increasing the frequency of in-person meetings from two times a year to three times a year for the Consumer Advisory Board (CAB), Consumer Bank Advisory Council (CBAC), and Credit Union Advisory Council (CUAC); elevating the Academic Research Council (ARC) to a Director-level advisory committee, and increasing meeting frequency; and, increasing term lengths from one to two years;
  • Launched a symposia series to provide a public forum for the Bureau to hear a range of diverse views related to upcoming rulemaking and policy development; three session have been held, covering Abusiveness (June 25), Behavioral Law and Economics (September 19) and Section 1071 (November 6);
  • Announced the establishment of a Taskforce on Federal Consumer Financial Law to examine ways to harmonize and modernize federal consumer financial laws.  The taskforce may produce recommendations to improve and strengthen consumer financial laws and regulations; and
  • Issued a Request for Information and an NPRM on the Remittance Rule; the NPRM, if finalized, would allow certain banks and credit unions to continue to provide estimates for certain fees and exchange rate information included on disclosures under certain conditions and would expand the safe harbor exemption for providers doing a relatively small number of remittances.

Creating A Culture of Compliance

  • Creating a culture of compliance by outlining clear rules of the road and actively supervising both banks and nonbanks for compliance;
  • Institutions paid millions in restitution to over 247,000 consumers in connection with supervisory activities;
  • In Fy2019 Supervision commenced 133 supervisory events at supervised entities, completed 147 supervisory events at supervised entities resulting in 433 matters requiring attention by these entities;
  • Published three issues of Supervisory Highlights:
    • Issue 18, covering supervisory findings in the areas of automobile loan servicing, deposits, mortgage servicing, and remittances;
    • Issue 19, covering supervisory findings in the areas of automobile loan origination, credit card account management, debt collection, furnishing, and mortgage origination; and
    • Issue 20, a special edition, covering supervisory findings in the consumer reporting area.
  • Implemented processes to make the scheduling, staffing, and execution of supervisory exams more efficient, and continued exploring opportunities to bring greater efficiency to supervision processes;
  • Committed to the hiring of consumer compliance examiners and their professional development through such initiatives as micro-learning, compliance technology systems training, and virtual learning; and
  • Instituted a post-commissioning specialization program that deepens examiner expertise in fair lending, mortgage origination, mortgage servicing, and coaching/training

Enforcing the Law Against Bad Actors

  • In FY2019, announced 22 public enforcement actions and settled six previously filed lawsuits, that resulted in orders requiring more than $777 million in total consumer relief (more than $600 million in consumer redress and more than $174 million in other relief) and more than $185 million in civil money penalties, before adjusting for suspended amounts;
  • Took action against a company and an individual that offered financing for airline tickets to military servicemembers for violations of the Consumer Financial Protection Act (CFPA), Truth in Lending Act (TILA), its implementing Regulation Z, and Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR), and against the company that serviced those loans for violations of the CFPA and Regulation V, which implements the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA);
  • Took action against a company that prepared background screening reports to assist employers in making employment decisions for violations of FCRA;
  • In partnership with the Arkansas Attorney General and the South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs, took several actions against individuals and companies who brokered contracts offering high-interest credit to veterans and other consumers for violating the CFPA; 
  • In partnership with the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office, the North Carolina Department of Justice, and the Los Angeles City Attorney, filed an action to halt a student-loan debt-relief operation engaged in allegedly unlawful conduct in violation of the CFPA and the Telemarketing Sales Rule;
  • Filed a lawsuit against debt-collection companies and their owner for violating the CFPA, FCRA and Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA);
  • Filed a lawsuit against a company and its chief executive officer, and its auditor, in connection with the offering of financial advisory and mortgage assistance relief services in violation of the CFPA and Regulation O;
  • Took action against a debt-collection company for violations of the FDCPA and the CFPA;
  • Took action against a company for violations of the Remittance Transfer Rule, in the Bureau’s first enforcement action for violations of this rule;
  • Took action against a national consumer reporting agency for its 2017 data breach, securing up to $425 million in monetary relief to consumers, a $100 million civil money penalty, and other relief in partnership with the Federal Trade Commission, 48 states, and the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico;
  • In partnership with 44 states and the District of Columbia, took action against a company for providing substantial assistance to a for-profit college chain in making predatory loans to students;
  • Took action against one of the 10 largest HMDA reporters for violating HMDA and Regulation C;
  • Took action against a mortgage servicer for violating the CFPA, Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), Regulation X, TILA, and Regulation Z;
  • Filed a lawsuit against a debt collection firm for violating the CFPA and the FDCPA; 
  • Filed a lawsuit against a credit repair company and several related entities alleging that they violated the CFPA and the Telemarketing Sales Rule;
  • Took action against a student loan servicing company that engaged in unfair practices that violated the CFPA;
  • Took action against a payday lender that violated the CFPA, the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, Regulation P, the Truth in Lending Act, and Regulation Z; 
  • Took action against an online lender that extends unsecured payday and installment loans for violating the CFPA;
  • Took action against a retail company offering store credit card accounts for violating the CFPA, TILA, and Regulation Z in partnership with the NY Attorney General;
  • Took action against a federally chartered savings association for violating the CFPA, the Electronic Fund Transfer Act, and Regulation E;
  • Delivered proposed legislation to Congress to enhance protections for servicemembers; and
  • Announced changes to policies regarding Civil Investigative Demands (CIDs) to ensure they provide more information about the potentially wrongful conduct under investigation.

Educating and Empowering Consumers to Make Better Informed Financial Decisions   

  • Launched the Start Small, Save Up initiative to encourage consumers to build emergency savings and increase opportunities for more consumers to save;
  • Assisted 75 Volunteers Income Tax Assistance (VITA) programs. The 2019 Tax Time Savings Cohort program assisted with the preparation of 1.8 million tax returns, with 5 percent of taxpayers saving a portion of their refund.  This compares to just under 1 percent of taxpayers who saved a portion of their tax returns across all VITA sites nationwide;
  • Released annual report on the Bureau’s tax time savings initiative. This year’s report,  Tax Time: An opportunity to Start Small and Save Up discusses the results of the CFPB’s tax time savings initiative for the 2019 tax season and shares best practices;
  • Published four reports to share promising and prudent practices to help child savings programs increase opportunities for more families with low-income and low-wealth to save for their children’s post-secondary education;
  • Published two Your Money, Your Goals booklets on strategies to increase savings and ways to build and manage credit;
  • Launched the CFPB Savings Boot Camp, a multi-week email course that provides the foundation consumers need to start saving;
  • Announced enhancements to the Bureau’s Consumer Response Database, including adding user-friendly tools that provide more context for the data;
  • Handled approximately 30,000 complaints per month in 2019 with a 98 percent timely response rate on complaints the Bureau sent to companies;
  • The Office of Consumer Response received its 2 millionth consumer complaint in October 2019;
  • Distributed more than 6 million financial education publications and provided answers to common questions on money topics to more than 5.5 million web users of AskCFPB and other on-line educational tools;
  • Offered training to assist librarians at more than 2,700 libraries registered to receive information that can help make their libraries a “go-to” financial education resource in the community;
  • Facilitated the training of more than 4,000 frontline staff in social services organizations working directly with lower-income consumers, providing information and action steps in money management that can be shared with the people they serve through the Your Money, Your Goals program;
  • Launched ready-to-use classroom activities for middle/high school teachers;
  • Published 78 consumer facing blogs to help consumers gain knowledge and better understand a wide spectrum of financial subjects; mortgage closing scams, debt collection (including tips for resolution); a list of specialty credit reporting companies, and new protections for servicemembers on newly established credit freeze protections (joint with Federal Trade Commission);
  • Continued scholarship and research on how financial education can contribute to financial well-being.  The Bureau’s definition and scale for measuring financial well-being and its research identifying likely personal drivers of financial well-being provide essential tools and knowledge for financial education;
  • As part of our commitment to understanding and fostering financial well-being, the Bureau released a state-by-state report on financial well-being using the data collected in a 2018 national survey by the FINRA Investor Education Foundation.  The state-by-state information provides more depth of information to help consumers enhance their financial well-being;
  • Facilitated five convenings of groups to establish Elder Fraud Prevention and Response Networks supporting nearly 1.6 million older Americans;
  • Distributed more than 2 million educational materials to help consumers and caregivers make informed financial decisions, and to better identify and prevent elder financial exploitation;
  • Published elder financial exploitation reports, Issues and Trends Based on Suspicious Activity Reports (from financial institutions);
  • Began refreshing content and creating new educational materials for use by students and those who help them;
  • Created and are beta testing Financing Your Future, a new web tool to help students evaluate financial aid offers;
  • Published annual Private Education Loan Ombudsman report covering two years of data including approximately 20,600 complaints related to private or federal student loans;
  • Collaborated with the Department of Education toward reestablishing a Memorandum of Understanding on student loan complaints;
  • Expanded the financial education tool Misadventures in Money Management to active-duty servicemembers;
  • Published annual reports related to servicemember, veteran, and military family consumer complaints, a report on the financial well-being of veterans, and a report on mortgage issues specifically related to servicemember and veterans;
  • Provided 200,000 financial education brochures to military consumers;
  • Educated 17,500 military consumers on financial products and services;
  • Handled 35,133 complaints from military consumers;
  • Produced a report on mortgage issues specifically related to servicemembers and veterans; and
  • Provided $1.1 million in monetary relief to servicemembers, veterans and military family consumers through the complaint process.

Enhanced Inter-Agency Coordination

  • Effective April 1, 2019 CFPB Director Kraninger became the Chairman of the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC).
  • Under Chairman Kraninger’s leadership, the FFIEC issued several important announcements: the 2019 list of distressed or underserved nonmetropolitan middle-income geographies for Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) consideration; a reminder of the benefits of using a standardized approach to assess and improved cybersecurity preparedness; HMDA data from 5,683 U.S. financial institutions; and, a revised Business Continuity Management booklet stressing the value of resilience to avoid operational disruptions.
  • Announced jointly with the Federal Reserve Board dollar thresholds in Regulation Z (TILA) and Regulation M (Consumer Leasing) for determining exempt consumer credit and lease transactions for 2020;
  • Jointly with the Federal Reserve Board and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Bureau announced an increase in the threshold for exempting loans from special appraisal requirements for higher-priced mortgage loans for 2020;
  • Jointly with the Federal Reserve Board, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the National Credit Union Administration, the Bureau issued a statement on the use of alternative data in credit underwriting, underscoring the potential for expanding access to credit and enabling consumers to obtain additional products and more favorable pricing and terms; and
  • Jointly held with the Federal Trade Commission a workshop on accuracy in consumer reporting to examine issues affecting the accuracy of traditional credit reports as well as employment and tenant background screening reports.

Promoting a More Inclusive, Effective and Efficient Organization

  • Established a Workforce Effectiveness Committee to increase employee engagement and to ensure the organization takes a holistic, consistent approach when considering initiatives that impact staff;
  • Created a Customer Experience Office to focuses on improving our internal staff experience through enhanced operational services enabling the workforce to be more effective and efficient in meeting the Bureau’s mission;
  • Promoted diversity and inclusion by updating the Bureau’s Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan. Increased the focus on strong engagement with employees and utilizing an integrated approach to education, training, and engagement programs that incorporates diversity and inclusion concepts into the learning curriculum and work environment.  Employee resources groups, cultural education programs, and diversity and inclusion training are key components of this effort;
  • Promoted the Bureau’s focus on data and information governance and management by creating a new Office of the Chief Data Officer, combining it with related functions such as Records, FOIA and Privacy, and elevating it to report directly to the Chief Operating Officer; the Southeast Regional Office will feature a regional learning and development center for Bureau examiners and federal and state partners;
  • Opened a regional office in Atlanta, Georgia so that the Bureau’s Southeast Region can collaborate more effectively with other partner financial regulators who also have their regional office in Atlanta; and
  • Launched the consolidation of all Washington, DC-based staff from two office buildings into one to increase the effectiveness of the organization and to significantly improve the collaboration across all teams and divisions. Moves are underway and planned to be completed in January 2020.

 

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