CFPB Halts Some Reporting Reqs, Eyes Exam Scheduling

Law360 (March 26, 2020, 9:34 PM EDT) -- The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said Thursday that it will temporarily suspend certain regulatory reporting requirements and be flexible on supervisory exam scheduling in an effort to take some burdens off mortgage lenders, card issuers and other financial services companies as they contend with the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a series of policy statements, the CFPB said it is taking steps in light of the coronavirus public health emergency to accommodate the staffing and operational difficulties facing financial institutions and to give these firms more bandwidth to prioritize their customers.

Those steps include relieving mortgage lenders of their upcoming deadlines for sending in quarterly loan application and origination data, waiving requirements for credit card issuers to submit card agreements and other information and adjusting the agency’s supervisory and enforcement activities.

"As consumers seek temporary relief from lenders, the pandemic is impacting the operations of financial companies that are eager to help their customers during this unprecedented time," CFPB director Kathleen L. Kraninger said in a statement. "Our actions today are temporary and targeted to support consumers by allowing financial companies to focus their resources on assisting consumers."

As part of this recalibration, the CFPB said it will not go after lenders if they skip their quarterly data submissions under the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act, which requires reporting on borrower characteristics, loan terms and other data points.

Lenders should still collect this HMDA data, but their obligation to report it quarterly is effectively waived until further notice, the agency said.

The CFPB said it will also let credit card and prepaid account issuers postpone a number of required periodic filings, including annual reporting on college credit card agreements and submissions of card and account terms.

In addition, the agency said it is delaying two surveys, one related to its plans to start collecting small-business lending data and another related to a type of financing for energy-efficient property upgrades.

On the supervision and enforcement front, the CFPB  pledged to "work with affected financial institutions in scheduling examinations and other supervisory activities to minimize disruption and burden."

"Bureau supervision staff will keep in close contact with affected institutions to determine when supervisory events can be appropriately scheduled," the agency said. "Similarly, bureau enforcement activities will take into account current staffing and related resource challenges confronting financial institutions and their counsel."

Stressing its desire for companies to do what they can to meet the "exigent needs" of their customers, the CFPB said it will accordingly "consider the circumstances that entities may face as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and will be sensitive to good-faith efforts demonstrably designed to assist consumers" when conducting supervisory exams and deciding whether to bring enforcement actions.

"The bureau, along with our state and federal partners, have released prior guidance encouraging financial institutions to work constructively with borrowers and other customers affected by COVID-19 to meet their financial needs," Kraninger said. "We will continue to issue additional guidance and policies to facilitate the ongoing collaborative relationship between companies and their customers during this time."

--Editing by Jay Jackson Jr.

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