The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued a statement last March 26, 2020 entitled, “Statement on Bureau Supervisory and Enforcement Response to COVID-19 Pandemic”. In the statement, the CFPB mentioned that it would consider pandemic-related issues that the financial institutions could face like account staffing and related resources challenges in deciding to bring supervisory and enforcement actions. The CFPB also stated that it would consider the financial institutions’ good efforts to comply with regulations and assist consumers when conducting examinations and other supervisory actions.
As COVID-19 vaccines are now available and people have returned to their “normal” work schedules, the CFPB rescinds the Statement on Bureau Supervisory and Enforcement Response to COVID-19 Pandemic, effective last April 1, 2021. The CFPB announced its intent to exercise its supervisory and enforcement authority with the full authority provided by the Congress. The CFPB believes that financial institutions were given ample time to adapt to the pandemic situation. These financial institutions have adjusted their operations by shifting to remote mode of operation in the early stage of the pandemic and are slowly having back in-person operations. These two modes combined have shown improved operations, so it is no longer necessary to maintain the flexibilities that were given before. The CFPB never intended these flexibilities to be permanent, but rather, they were temporary relief.
With this rescission, the CFPB has made it a priority to use its supervisory, enforcement and other tools to full extent to prevent unlawful acts, policies and practices that could harm consumers. With this, it is important and critical that financial institutions adhere to the consumer protection requirements. The CFPB also continues to encourage these financial institutions to meet the financial needs of the consumers affected by this pandemic.