Last week, the CFPB finalized interim final rules that the Bureau issued over four years ago in connection with the transfer of rulemaking authority under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank). Dodd-Frank, which was signed into law in July of 2010, established the CFPB and transferred rulemaking authority for a number of federal consumer financial laws from seven different federal agencies to the CFPB.
In total, the Bureau assumed rulemaking authority for 14 federal consumer financial protection laws which include the ECOA, EFTA, FCRA, FDCPA, GLBA, HMDA, RESPA, and TILA. In December 2011, the Bureau took the existing regulations that implement those laws and republished them in the Federal Register in title 12 of the Code of Federal Regulations as interim final rules (IFRs). Those IFRs contained technical changes to reflect the transfer of authority and other changes mandated by Dodd-Frank, but did not add any new substantive obligations to the existing regulations. The CFPB’s final rule summarily adopts all 14 IFRs as final.
There were more than 100 comments submitted by industry trade associations, consumer groups, creditors, and other interested parties. The Bureau classified the comments as generally falling into four broad categories: (1) typographical or grammatical errors; (2) the effect on existing internet links; (3) requests that the Bureau confirm that it is bound by existing informal advisory opinions issued by predecessor agencies; and (4) requests for various substantive changes to the regulations. In the Supplementary Information, the Bureau explained that it has “considered all of the comments received and has decided to adopt the December 2011 IFRs as final without change, subject to intervening final rules published by the Bureau.” Of particular interest is the Bureau’s response to comments regarding the treatment of informal advisory opinions. The Bureau explains that it had already addressed the matter before the December 2011 IFRs by issuing a notice in the Federal Register on July 21, 2011. In that notice, the CFPB provided a list of enforceable rules and orders and noted that the Bureau “will give due consideration to the application of other written guidance, interpretations, and policy statements issued prior to July 21, 2011, by a transferor agency in light of all relevant factors . . .”