CFPB to Issue Advisory Opinions, Encourage Self-Reporting

As part of its efforts to prevent consumer harm, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau today announced that it will issue advisory opinions to help companies understand legal and regulatory obligations. Advisory opinions issued under the program will include interpretations of the CFPB’s existing rules and will be published in the Federal Register, unlike the bureau’s current guidance process, under which responses on regulatory inquiries are available only to the requesters.

“Advisory opinions will ensure that companies know what compliance entails and what constitutes a violation,” CFPB Director Kathleen Kraninger said. The bureau added that it will provide additional procedures on how the requests will be addressed and prioritized.

Meanwhile, the CFPB revised a 2013 bulletin on “responsible business conduct,” particularly in self-assessing compliance, self-reporting likely violations, remediating the harm from those violations and cooperating with the bureau. “[I]f an entity meaningfully engages in responsible conduct, the bureau intends to favorably consider such conduct, along with other relevant factors, in addressing violations of federal consumer financial law in supervisory and enforcement matters,” the bulletin said, outlining several options available to the bureau to recognize responsible conduct and the factors that the bureau will consider in weighing responsible conduct.