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CFPB Trying to Jump Start Trial Disclosures

Policy change proposed

Sept. 10, 2018

By Mortgage Daily staff



A policy change is being proposed by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that is intended to jump start the use of trial disclosure programs.

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act gave the bureau the ability to provide legal protections to conduct trial disclosure programs.

Under Dodd-Frank, companies can conduct trial disclosure programs, and the CFPB can provide them with a safe harbor by considering them to be in compliance with, or exempt from, a law.

In December 2012, the regulator proposed a policy to encourage trial disclosures. That proposal became a final policy in September 2013.

"However, the policy failed to effectively encourage trial disclosure programs: The bureau did not permit a single such program in the nearly five years since the policy was issued," a CFPB filing with the Federal Register Monday said.

So the agency, under its acting director, Mick Mulvaney, is proposing to revise the policy -- a move it hopes will encourage firms to conduct trial disclosure programs.

First, the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection -- which is how regulator refers to itself nowadays -- wants to cut the application burden and reduce the review time frame. This will be done by eliminating several elements determined to be redundant or unnecessary.

Next, guidance about the testing time frame needs to be more abundant.

The CFPB also wants to specify procedures for extensions of successful trial disclosure programs.

Finally, a goal of providing for coordination with current or future programs offered by other regulators designed to facilitate innovation is sought.

"The bureau's proposed review will now focus on the quality and persuasiveness of the application, especially the extent to which the trial disclosures are likely to be an improvement over existing disclosures, and the extent to which the testing program mitigates risks to consumers," today's filing states. "Accordingly, under the proposed policy, the bureau intends to grant or deny a formal, complete application for a trial disclosure waiver within 60 days of submission. In addition, the proposed policy reiterates that the bureau may grant waivers for disclosures that improve upon existing requirements based upon cost-effectiveness, delivery mechanism,or consumer understanding."

The CFPB said it intends to require companies with a waiver to notify it if there is a material change in complaint patterns or consumers are adversely impacted.

Trade groups can submit applications on behalf of members.

A two-year testing period will be appropriate in most cases.

Comments about the proposed policy must be submitted by Oct. 10. This can be done at www.federalregister.gov.

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