On February 14, 2022, Venable partner Jonathan Pompan was quoted in Law360 on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) enforcement activity. According to the article, under the Biden administration, the CFPB has so far taken fewer enforcement actions and pulled in fewer dollars in fines, but some observers believe there are signs that this may just be the calm before the storm.
New CFPB consent orders and lawsuits don't happen in a vacuum. They are the products of months, even years, of behind-the-scenes investigative work at the agency, which can have dozens of cases open at any given time. As a result, public enforcement action statistics provide a backward-looking indicator of the CFPB's enforcement posture and won't capture all the other nonpublic activity that is happening inside the agency. "There's a lag time, so anyone who is setting their compliance prioritization and risk determinations based on enforcement statistics alone would be making a big mistake," said Pompan.
"When reading the tea leaves of enforcement, statistics and anecdotes have to be interpreted in context," Venable's Pompan said. "And there is a lot of context available just from Chopra's own public statements about what the bureau is focusing on."
For one, CFPB Director Rohit Chopra has announced plans to crack the whip on bank overdraft fees and other account service charges that he has labeled "junk fees." He has also launched initiatives aimed at scrutinizing payment platforms operated by major tech companies, colleges' in-house private student lending practices, and the market for buy now, pay later products, all of which have hinted at potential enforcement components.
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