On February 25, 2019, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB or Bureau) have renewed their Memorandum of Understanding. The memorandum recognizes that both agencies share the responsibility of protecting consumers and enforcing consumer financial protection laws under the Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010. The cooperative agreement seeks to avoid duplicative work by the agencies.
The Memorandum, signed by the CFPB’s Director Kathy Kraninger and the FTC’s Chairman Joseph Simons, discusses several areas of cooperation. Four areas in particular are of interest to the ARM industry.
1. Enforcement Actions
According to the memorandum, the agencies shall:
- Coordinate law enforcement activities, including conducting joint investigations where appropriate. The memorandum lays out procedures that the agencies shall follow throughout the lifecycle of enforcement proceedings.
- Share resources where applicable.
- Have a meeting at least annually with designated representatives from each agency to discuss legal issues and ensure to the greatest extent possible that both agencies are putting forth consistent interpretations of consumer financial protection laws.
The memorandum also discusses rulemaking, requiring both agencies to give notice to each other of their rulemaking plans and agendas. This is in order to ensure consistency and avoid duplication in rules regarding certain spheres of consumer financial protection laws. Both agencies agree to consult with each other as they work towards setting parameters for the laws that they have authority to engage in rulemaking for.
3. Supervision and Examination
The CFPB agreed to share its examination schedule with the FTC. Additionally, the CFPB will confer with the FTC regarding its examination plans and results. The agreement also allows the CFPB to share confidential supervisory information with the FTC upon written request.
4. Consumer Complaints
Regarding consumer complaints, the agreement states that the CFPB facilitates the centralized collection of, monitoring of, and response to consumer complaints. The CFPB routes complaints to the FTC where appropriate. The memorandum also calls for the CFPB to “share consumer complaint information with the FTC into the Consumer Sentinel Network so that such information will be made available to all other law enforcement organizations that use Sentinel.”
A quick note about the Consumer Sentinel Network, where the CFPB routes complaints. As mentioned above, it is available for other law enforcement organizations to review with the goal that “information sharing can make law enforcement even more effective,” according to the FTC’s website. The list of members with access to view the confidential information in the sentinel is extensive. It includes many federal, state, and local regulators and law enforcement agencies. Back in 2012, the CFPB announced that it would be sharing its complaint data with state regulators, so the information sharing is no surprise. However, sometimes it’s good to be reminded to take care with responses to these complaints because they are seen by many eyes.