The Bureau has published its Fall 2020 Agenda as part of , which is coordinated by the Office of Management and Budget under Executive Order 12866. The agenda lists the regulatory matters that we expect to focus on between November 2020 and November 2021. Some of these actions represent a further step on matters described in our . We have also added some new regulatory projects to our agenda. As always, the Bureau’s goal is to enhance consumer financial protection by promoting compliance with the law, fostering competition, increasing transparency, and preserving fair markets for financial products and services. Finally, we continue to monitor the need for further actions by the Bureau to protect consumer financial well-being during and after the ongoing COVID-19 emergency.
The Bureau has already completed some of the actions listed on the Fall 2020 Agenda:
- On September 15, 2020, the Bureau took a major step towards implementing section 1071 of the Dodd-Frank Act, releasing an outline of regulatory proposals under consideration and alternatives considered in advance of convening a panel under the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA). The Bureau convened the SBREFA panel on October 15, 2020 and met with small entity representatives the week of October 19th. Section 1071 amended the Equal Credit Opportunity Act to require financial institutions to collect, report, and make public certain information concerning credit applications made by women-owned, minority-owned, and small businesses, subject to rules prescribed by the Bureau. In July 2020, the Bureau released a survey of lenders to obtain estimates of one-time costs lenders of varying sizes would incur to collect and report data pursuant to section 1071.
- On October 20, 2020, the Bureau issued the first of three final rules concerning amendments to the qualified mortgage (QM) provisions of Regulation Z, which implement provisions of the Truth in Lending Act (TILA). With certain exceptions, Regulation Z requires creditors to make a reasonable, good faith determination of a consumer’s ability to repay any residential mortgage loan, and loans that meet Regulation Z’s requirements for “qualified mortgages” obtain certain protections from liability. One category of QMs covers certain loans that are eligible for purchase or guarantee by either the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) or the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac). Under Regulation Z, this category of QMs (Temporary GSE QM or “Patch” loans) is scheduled to expire no later than January 10, 2021. The until the effective date of the proposed alternative or until one or more of the GSEs exits conservatorship, whichever comes first.
On December 10, 2020, the Bureau published the two remaining final QM rulemakings. In one of these rules, the Bureau amended the definition of General QM that will move the definition away from the 43 percent Debt-to-Income (DTI) requirement and instead establish a price-based requirement. General QM loans will still have to meet the statutory criteria for QM status, including restrictions related to loan features, up-front costs, and underwriting. In the other final rule, the Bureau established a new “seasoning” definition of QM. The new definition will create an alternative pathway to QM safe-harbor status for certain mortgages when the borrower has consistently made timely payments for a period.
- On October 22, 2020, the Bureau issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking concerning consumer data access to implement Section 1033 of the Dodd-Frank Act. Section 1033 provides that, subject to rules prescribed by the Bureau, covered persons shall make available to consumers, upon request, transaction data and other information concerning a consumer financial product or service that the consumer obtains from a covered person. Section 1033 also states that the Bureau shall prescribe by rule standards to promote the development and use of standardized formats for information made available to consumers.
- On October 30, 2020, the Bureau issued a final rule to restate and clarify prohibitions on harassment and abuse, false or misleading representations, and unfair practices by debt collectors when collecting consumer debt. The rule focuses on debt collection communications and gives consumers more control over how often and through what means debt collectors can communicate with them regarding their debts. The rule also clarifies how the protections of the 1977 Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) apply to newer communication technologies, such as email and text messages. The rule establishes a presumption on the number of calls debt collectors may place to reach consumers on a weekly basis. A debt collector is presumed to violate federal law if the debt collector places telephone calls to a person in connection with the collection of a particular debt more than seven times within seven consecutive days or within seven consecutive days of having had a telephone conversation about the debt. The rule also clarifies how consumers may set limits on debt collection communications to reflect their preferences and the limits on communicating with third parties about a consumer’s debt; requires debt collectors who communicate electronically to offer the consumer a reasonable and simple method to opt out of such communications at a specific email address or telephone number; provides that consumers may, if the debt collector communicates through a medium of electronic communications, use that medium of electronic communications to place a cease communication request or notify the debt collector that they refuse to pay the debt; clarifies that the FDCPA’s general prohibition on harassing, oppressive, or abusive conduct applies to telephone calls as well as other communication media, such as email and text messages, and provides examples demonstrating how the prohibition restricts emails and text messages; and generally restates the FDCPA’s prohibitions regarding false, deceptive, or misleading representations or means and unfair or unconscionable means.
In addition to these accomplishments, we have several other regulatory activities planned for the remainder of 2020 through the spring of 2021. Key among these are the following:
- In addition to completing and publishing the October 30, 2020 final rule on debt collection, the Bureau has also engaged in testing of time-barred debt disclosures that were not the focus of the May 2019 proposal. In early 2020, after completing the testing, the Bureau published a supplemental NPRM related to time-barred debt disclosures. The Bureau expects to issue a final rule in December 2020 addressing, among other things, disclosures related to the validation notice and time-barred debt.
- The Bureau is continuing a rulemaking to address the anticipated expiration of the LIBOR index, which the UK Financial Conduct Authority has stated that it cannot guarantee the publication of beyond the end of 2021. The Bureau’s work is designed to facilitate compliance by open-end and closed-end creditors with Regulation Z as they transition away from LIBOR. The Bureau issued an NPRM in June 2020. On Monday, November 30, regulatory authorities in the UK announced that they are considering extending the availability of US$LIBOR for legacy loan contracts until June 2023 instead of the end of 2021. In light of this development, the Bureau anticipates publishing the final rulemaking on the LIBOR transition later than the January 2021 target identified in the Unified Agenda.
- The Bureau is participating in interagency rulemaking processes with the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the National Credit Union Administration, and the Federal Housing Finance Agency to develop regulations to implement the amendments made by the Dodd-Frank Act to the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act of 1989 (FIRREA) concerning appraisals. These amendments require implementing regulations for quality control standards for automated valuation models (AVMs). The Agencies will continue to develop a proposed rule to implement the Dodd-Frank Act’s AVM amendments to FIRREA.
- The Bureau anticipates issuing an NPRM in spring 2021 to consider possible amendments to the Bureau’s mortgage servicing rules to address actions required of servicers working with borrowers affected by natural disasters or other emergencies. In June 2020, the Bureau issued an Interim Final Rule (IFR) amending aspects of the mortgage servicing rules to address the exigencies of COVID-19. Comments received on the IFR and information gathered through the Bureau’s market monitoring suggest that the rules may need additional updates to address natural disasters or other emergencies.
- Finally, the Bureau anticipates publishing two NPRMs in early 2021 concerning possible revisions to the 2015 Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA). One of these follows an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in May 2019 concerning certain data points that are required to be reported under the HMDA rule and coverage of certain business or commercial purpose loans, addressing concerns about regulatory burden. The second would address the public disclosure of HMDA data in light of consumer privacy interests, so that stakeholders can concurrently consider and comment on the collection and reporting of data points and public disclosure of those data points. This NPRM will follow up on the Bureau’s 2018 final policy guidance regarding disclosure of the HMDA data. (These proposed rules may not be released by the anticipated February target in the Unified Agenda.)
The Bureau has added two new items to its long-term regulatory agenda, which focuses on potential regulatory actions that an agency may engage in beyond the current fiscal year. First, the Bureau is adding an entry related to its TILA/RESPA Integrated Disclosures (TRID) rule. The Dodd-Frank Act directed the Bureau to integrate the mortgage disclosures required under TILA and RESPA. In November 2013, the Bureau issued a final rule to implement this requirement (the TILA/RESPA Integrated Disclosure or TRID rule). The Bureau amended the 2013 final rule on two occasions before its effective date, and the amended rule took effect on October 3, 2015. The Bureau subsequently amended the 2013 final rule in July 2017 and April 2018. The July 2017 Amendments took effect on October 10, 2017, and the April 2018 Amendments took effect on June 1, 2018. On October 1, 2020, the Bureau published a report of its assessment of the TRID rule, as amended when the rule took effect in October 2015, as required by Section 1022(d) of the Dodd-Frank Act. The Bureau has received comment in response to a November 2019 Request for Information in connection with the TRID rule assessment, the Bureau’s 2018 Calls for Evidence, and other Bureau outreach suggesting that modifications of aspects of the TRID rule may make the rule more effective. As the Bureau continues to monitor market developments, the Bureau will evaluate possible policy responses to issues identified, including potential rulemaking, guidance, or other activities.
Second, the Bureau has commenced research that focuses on providing information to consumers about the costs associated with payday loans. The results of the qualitative testing will inform the Bureau in deciding whether and how to move forward with quantitative testing that might support possible future rulemaking or other actions related to payday loan disclosures.
The Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) requires the Bureau to consider the effect on small entities of certain rules it promulgates. The Bureau published in May 2019 its plan for conducting reviews, consistent with section 610 of the RFA, of certain regulations which are believed to have a significant impact on a substantial number of small entities. Congress specified that the purpose of such reviews shall be to determine whether such rules should be continued without change, or should be amended or rescinded, consistent with the stated objectives of the applicable statutes, to minimize any significant economic impact of the rules upon a substantial number of such small entities. In August 2020 the Bureau commenced its review pursuant to section 610 of the RFA of Regulation Z rules that implement the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009. Specifically, the Bureau will review an interim final rule and three final rules published by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (Board) from July 2009 to April 2011.
Finally, as required by the Dodd-Frank Act, the Bureau is also continuing to monitor markets for consumer financial products and services to identify risks to consumers and the proper functioning of such markets. The Bureau’s market monitoring work assists in identifying issues for potential future rulemaking work.