Written By Shereefat Balogun, Regulatory Compliance Counsel
As compliance professionals, it's so hard being the good guy all of the time because there are so many things to focus on. In the movies, the superhero has to choose between saving their partner, saving themselves, or completing the mission. And of course, in the movies the superhero ends up somehow successfully doing all three. Well, despite the common adage that "life isn't always like the movies", we can rise like the superhero by prioritizing our efforts and focus on the issues that our regulators are focusing on, specifically the CFPB and NCUA.
About three weeks ago, the CFPB issued its monthly report on consumer complaints. Based on the report's findings, consumer debt collection continues to be a clear focus of the CFPB, as well as credit reporting.
- Debt Collection- For a few years now, debt collection has been the source of most complaints submitted to the Bureau, and this report continues to highlight that. Debt collection was the most complained about product submitted in January 2017. Generally, consumers complain that collectors contacted them for debts that they do not owe; harass them by making multiple calls weekly or daily, or using false, deceptive, or misleading statements in connection with the debt collection; threatened to take illegal actions, such as arrests or seizure of the consumer's property; and impermissibly contacted or shared information with others, such as employers. For more on the CFPB's efforts on debt collection practices, check out my previous blog on the topic here.
- Credit Reporting- The CFPB notes that the most common issues identified by consumers are problems with incorrect information on credit reports, which accounted for 76% of the complaints. Other issues identified include, the process for blocking and removing information resulting from identity theft. The report states that consumers report notifying furnishers of information of identity theft with appropriate documentation, only to have accounts verified as accurate. Notably, just two weeks ago, the Bureau issued its Supervisory Highlights which focuses on consumer reporting and concludes that the Bureau's work in the consumer reporting market is ongoing and remains a high priority. Amongst its findings, the CFPB observes:
- Weaknesses in compliance management systems, such as weak oversight by management and the Board of Directors over furnishing practices; failure to update policies and procedures; weak training of employees who conduct furnishing and dispute handling operations; and weak monitoring and corrective action.
- Absence of policies and procedures designed to: handle and investigate direct disputes from consumers; facilitate the creation and retention of documentation to substantiate final dispute decision; prevent duplicative or mixed reporting.
- False representations by financial institutions in order to obtain a consumers' consumer report. For example, making false statements that a consumer had applied for a loan, and thus the institution had a permissible purpose to obtain the report.
These reports can be a useful tool, as they can help credit unions evaluate which products and services are more problematic and thus, should be addressed in order to avoid or mitigate regulatory risks.
And let's not forget about our beloved…NCUA! The Supervisory Priorities for 2017 may be helpful in prioritizing our efforts. Indeed, we referenced the 2017 priorities in a previous blog back in January. Generally, the guidance informs credit unions of NCUA's primary areas of focus for 2017 as an effort to help prepare for this year's examination process. As a reminder, this year's supervisory focus will be on:
- Cybersecurity- NCUA will continue to evaluate credit unions' cybersecurity risk management practices and encourages credit unions to use the Cybersecurity Assessment Tool (CAT) to bolster their security and risk management processes. In case you may have missed it, NAFCU members can take advantage of a user-friendly workbook version of CAT here.
- Bank Secrecy Act Compliance- In 2017, NCUA field staff will focus on credit unions' relationship with money services businesses (MSBs) and other accounts that may pose a higher risk for money laundering. NCUA expects credit unions to conduct appropriate due diligence, analysis, and monitoring when offering services to MSBs. NCUA Letter to Credit Unions 14-CU-10 provides guidance on how credit unions can identify and mitigate risks associated with MSBs.
- Internal Controls and Fraud Prevention- NCUA field staff will continue to assess the adequacy of internal controls, as well as procedures and processes designed to prevent and control fraud.
- Interest Rate and Liquidity Risk- NCUA has started using a revised interest rate risk supervisory tool and new examination procedures to assess interest rate risk management practices. For more information about the revised tool and new procedures, see NCUA Letter to Credit Unions 16-CU-08. Also, examiners will focus on the relationship between interest rate risk and liquid risk.
- Commercial Lending- As you know, NCUA revised its Member Business Loans/Commercial Lending rule, which became effective January 1, 2017. Field staff will evaluate a credit union's commercial loan policies and procedures and assess the risk management processes associated with managing a commercial loan portfolio. NCUA warns that credit unions should be prepared to provide documentation to support management's ability to monitor and manage its commercial loan portfolio. For more information, see NCUA Letter to Credit Unions 16-CU-11.
- Consumer Compliance- NCUA field staff will examine credit unions' compliance with the Military Lending Act (MLA), as well as the Servicemembers' Civil Relief Act (SCRA). For more information on the MLA, see NCUA Letter to Credit Unions 16-CU-07. NCUA Letter to Credit Unions 09-CU-12 provides guidance on complying with the SCRA. In particular, this enclosure provides a good overview of the SCRA requirements.
This month's Compliance Monitor, written by my colleague André Cotten, analyzes the NCUA's supervisory priorities for 2017 in more detail and highlights NCUA and NAFCU resources on each issue. If you haven't checked it out already, please do!
"S..S..S.. on my chest 'cause I'm ready to save 'em." Mantra of the year, Yes!!! Be your credit union's superhero by focusing on the regulators' priorities to help save time, lives, and money.
As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us. We are here for you!