Last week, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issued a Policy Statement announcing a new designation for CFPB guidance, which will be known as “Compliance Aids.” In its announcement, the CFPB explained the legal status and effect of this designation. The full Policy Statement can be located here and became effective on February 1.
The Policy Statement explains that one of the CFPB’s most important roles is to provide clear and useful guidance to regulated entities. While the CFPB always has provided compliance resources, this new category of Compliance Aids “will provide the public with greater clarity regarding the legal status and role of these materials.” The announcement does not change the status of existing compliance resources that already are in effect, such as instructional guides, factsheets, compliance checklists, and compliance bulletins, but some materials may be re-issued as Compliance Aids if doing so is in the public interest and as resources permit.
In its announcement, the CFPB clarified that Compliance Aids will not be used to make decisions that bind regulated entities, given that they are not “rules” under the Administrative Procedure Act. Instead, Compliance Aids will present the requirements of existing rules and statutes in a manner that is useful for compliance professionals, such as including practical suggestions for how regulated entities may choose to comply, and accurately summarizing and illustrating the underlying rules and statutes.
The CFPB stressed that regulated entities are not required to follow the Compliance Aids and, instead, only are required to comply with the underlying rules and statutes. However, the CFPB noted that, when exercising its enforcement and supervisory discretion, it does not intend to sanction entities that reasonably rely on the Compliance Aids.