On October 18, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a report to Congress in which it outlined its ongoing efforts to protect older Americans from fraud related losses.
On November 16, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB or Bureau) released its Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) Annual Report detailing the CFPB’s 2022 activities related to debt collection practices. This comprehensive document summarizes everything FDCPA-related undertaken by the agency during 2022, including enforcement actions, a summary of consumer complaints, education and outreach initiatives, and highlights from examinations it conducted. In addition to summarizing activities in the debt collection space from the past year, the report hints at potential future activities. Tellingly, the CFPB’s focus in 2022 was predominantly on medical debt, as highlighted by its press release announcing this report.
On October 30, President Biden issued a sweeping Executive Order calling on Congress to enact privacy laws and directing federal agencies to review existing rules and potentially explore new rulemakings governing the use of artificial intelligence (AI) across various sectors of the U.S. economy. Among other things, the Executive Order will require AI system developers to submit safety test results to the federal government, establish standards for detecting AI-generated content to fight consumer fraud, and develop AI tools to identify and fix vulnerabilities in critical software. According to the White House fact sheet, the stated goal of the Executive Order is to “ensure that America leads the way in seizing the promise and managing the risks of [AI].” To that end, the Executive Order focuses on national security, privacy, discrimination and bias, healthcare safety, workplace surveillance, innovation, and global leadership.
On October 27, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced a final rule amending the Standards for Safeguarding Customer Information (Safeguards Rule) under the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. The Safeguards Rule requires nonbanking financial institutions to develop, implement, and maintain a comprehensive information security program to keep their customers’ information safe. The amendment will require financial institutions to notify the FTC no later than 30 days after discovery of a security breach involving the information of 500 or more consumers. The amendment will go into effect 180 days after publication of the final rule in the Federal Register.
On October 24, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Wisconsin Department of Justice announced a settlement with Wisconsin auto dealer group Rhinelander Auto Center, Inc. (Rhinelander), its current and former owners, and general manager. The lawsuit was brought under the FTC Act, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA), the Wisconsin Deceptive Trade Practices Act, and the Wisconsin Consumer Act.
A new enforcement action provides more detail on the expectations of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) (collectively, the agencies) for the content of tenant screening reports.
On October 11, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB or Bureau) published a special edition of its Supervisory Highlights report. This report serves as a “victory lap” for the Bureau, which highlights the relief it has obtained for consumers since the release of its March 2023 Special Fees Edition, discussed here. According to the Bureau, its supervisory efforts have led to institutions refunding over $140 million to consumers, including $120 million in overdraft and non-sufficient funds (NSF) fees.
The Third Circuit Court of Appeals overruled a district court’s reading of an exception into §1681s-2(b) of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) that would allow a furnisher discretion to refuse to investigate an indirect dispute it deems frivolous or irrelevant. Instead, the Third Circuit held that a furnisher must investigate even frivolous indirect disputes — disputes submitted by a consumer first to a consumer reporting agency (CRA) that are then transmitted by the CRA to the furnisher. A copy of the decision can be found here.
Yesterday, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) (collectively, the agencies) filed an amici curiae brief urging the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit to reverse a district court’s decision finding a furnisher’s investigation of a consumer’s dispute and subsequent furnishing of the disputed information to be reasonable under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).
On August 16, a coalition of seven state attorneys general (AG) announced a settlement with participants alleged to be involved in a “massive” robocall operation. The stipulated order, which names Scott Shapiro, Michael T. Smith, Jr., and Health Advisors of America (defendants), permanently bans Shapiro and Smith from initiating or facilitating robocalls; working in or with companies that make robocalls; and engaging in telemarketing. The settlement also requires the defendants to make monetary payments to the coalition, which is comprised of AGs from the states of Arkansas, Indiana, Michigan, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, and Texas (the AGs).