Today, the CFPB again advised State Attorneys General (which means State Agencies as well) that the CFPB is monitoring how the states decide to undertake or not undertake enforcement action. Read this narrative taken from their site.
“Mr. Mulvaney stated that a significant, although not determinative, factor in the CFPB’s decision to initiate an enforcement action in a particular case will be whether state AGs or regulators are also considering whether to take enforcement action. He stated that if state AGs “are not bringing an action we are looking at, I’m going to want to know why.” More specifically, he would want to know whether the state’s reason is lack of resources or other factors unrelated to the merits of an action or whether it is that the state AG or regulator thinks the conduct in question is not illegal.”
In addition to various federal consumer protection statutes that give direct enforcement authority to state AGs or regulators, Section 1042 of the Consumer Financial Protection Act authorizes state AGs and regulators to bring civil actions to enforce the provisions of the CFPA, most notably its prohibition of unfair, deceptive or abusive acts or practices.
That’s the part that deserves your attention. The UDAAP provisions are broad by design and can be used to commence enforcement action for almost any reason.
Deceptive Acts or Practices
A representation, omission, actor practice is deceptive when
(1) The representation, omission, act, or practice misleads or is likely to mislead the consumer;
(2) The consumer’s interpretation of the representation, omission, act, or practice is reasonable under the circumstances; and
(3) The misleading representation, omission, act, or practice is material.
And some real or imagined consumer harm occurs as the result of the deceptive act or practice.
If a regulator sees or hears something that triggers their radar, they will examine your website and social media. Then your customer complaint log. Then the complete nature of your record keeping. Then they will interview you and measure your response.
Just be aware, folks – knowledge and training can reduce this risk greatly.
Nelson A. Locke, Esq. (800) 656-4584