CFPB Issues Final Advisory Opinions Policy

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The CFPB recently issued its final Advisory Opinions Policy (Policy), providing the procedures interested parties may use to request advisory opinions from the CFPB and the manner those requests will be evaluated and answered.  This final Advisory Opinions Policy supersedes the pilot program launched on June 18, 2020, which was covered by WBK.

Requests for advisory opinions should be submitted to advisoryopinion@cfpb.gov, or through other means designated by the CFPB, and must include:

  • The identification of any confidential information;
  • The identity of the person or entity seeking the advisory opinion;
  • A statement about the absence of investigation or litigation; and
  • Specifics about the issue on which the advisory opinion is sought.

As stated in the pilot program, under the Policy, the CFPB will prioritize open questions within its purview that can legally be addressed through an interpretive rule and which are better answered through an advisory opinion rather than by another CFPB tool.  Initial factors weighing for the appropriateness of an advisory opinion include:

  • The interpretive issue has been noted during prior CFPB examinations as one that might benefit from additional regulatory clarity;
  • The issue is one of significant importance or one whose clarification would provide significant benefit; and/or
  • The issue concerns an ambiguity that the CFPB has not previously addressed through an interpretive rule or other authoritative source. 

The CFPB will also evaluate requests based on secondary factors, including:

  • Alignment with CFPB statutory objectives;
  • Size of the benefit offered to consumers by resolution of the interpretive issue;
  • Known impact on the actions of other regulators; and
  • Impact on available CFPB resources.

Advisory opinions will be issued and will be final upon publication in the Federal Register.  Notably, as a response to comments received, the CFPB will allow interested persons to provide input on published advisory opinions by sending an email to the above-listed email or through other means designated by the CFPB.  However, the CFPB declined to adopt into the Policy a requirement that the CFPB accept input from the public before finalizing advisory opinions.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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