During the pandemic, consumer complaints to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) skyrocketed by more than 50%. The bureau’s function to protect consumers has certainly been put to the test—and just in time for the CFPB’s anniversary.

October Research recently published its Special Report on the CFPB Anniversary sponsored by Qualia. The report delivers a 9-year look back on CFPB leadership, the bureau’s current response to the pandemic, and what title industry professionals hope will be on the CFPB’s agenda this year.

9 years of CFPB: leadership changes and shifting priorities 

The report recapped the early days of the CFPB with leadership under Richard Cordray up to the current CFPB activity under Kathy Kraninger. Cordray’s efforts focused on enforcement of rules rather than guidance. Later, Mick Mulvaney and now Director Kathy Kraninger focused more on dialogue with business leaders to establish rulemaking and guidance. Enforcement has been a secondary approach to consumer protection under Kraninger. 

Last month, the leadership structure of the CFPB was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. The justices determined that the president will now be able to appoint and fire CFPB directors at will. Prior to this decision, many believed that the CFPB’s structure allowed a single director to hold too much power without the threat of removal from office. 

The CFPB’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic 

The CFPB sprung into action in March after the pandemic shut down local economies. The bureau issued guidance for mortgage servicers and distributed informational materials widely to both industry professionals and distressed consumers.

The bureau was instrumental in providing guidance to servicers during the pandemic. Among multiple examples, in June 2020, the CFPB published an interim final rule (IFR) to help servicers assist consumers. The rule made it clear that during COVID-19, servicers will not be in violation of Regulation X if they don’t have a  full loss mitigation application from the consumer before providing an offer. The CFPB also partnered with the Conference of State Bank Supervisors to deliver guidance on compliance with the CARES Act for forbearance. 

The CFPB similarly supported consumers during the pandemic by widely sharing information about forbearance options and eviction protection. The bureau released a public database that consumers can leverage to look up their landlord’s eligibility for mortgage forbearance on their property. These tools are empowering consumers to receive relief and exceptions from their landlords. 

Although much of the CFPB’s focus has been displaced to handle the COVID-19 crisis, the bureau is still focused on fair lending. The CFPB announced earlier this year that one of its priorities is protecting all borrowers and especially borrowers of color from discrimination. 

What does the title industry want from the CFPB this year? 

October Research’s report highlighted 3 key areas the title industry is hoping the CFPB will focus its efforts on this year.

  1. Bipartisan approach to regulation: ALTA’s CEO noted that ALTA strongly supports the Financial Product Safety Commission Act of 2020 that would replace a single director structure with a 5-person bipartisan commission.
  2. Eliminating data privacy pitfalls: Industry professionals are concerned about state-level privacy regulations creating a patchwork of inconsistencies that leave consumers vulnerable. They hope the CFPB will address this through uniform, nationwide rules. ALTA would also like the CFPB to improve requirements for how businesses must report data compromises to consumers.
  3. Adjustments to TRID: Title professionals are hoping for adjustments to the closing disclosure form to make the cost of title insurance more understandable to consumers.

Get the full report

To learn more about the CFPB’s most recent rule making and to hear title, mortgage, and other industry professionals deliver opinions about the CFPB’s future, click below to download October Research’s Special Report.

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