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FFIEC releases guidance on consumer protections, social media outreach by banks

The Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council released final guidance on Wednesday on the applicability of consumer protections and regulations to social media outreach efforts by banks, credit unions, savings associations and nonbanks.

“The use of social media by a financial institution to attract and interact with customers can impact a financial institution’s risk profile,” the guidance reads. “The increased risks can include…harm to consumers, compliance and legal risk, operational risk and reputation risk… This guidance is meant to help financial institutions identify potential risk areas to appropriately address, as well as to ensure institutions are aware of their responsibilities to oversee and control these risks…”

The final guidance clarifies that emails and text messages by themselves are not social media, and it cautions institutions to be aware of the laws that may apply to emails and text messages.

The council said in the guidance that a financial institution is expected to have a risk management program—commensurate with the breadth of social media involvement—in place that allows it to identify, measure, monitor and control social media-related risks.

“To the extent that a financial institution uses social media to engage in lending, deposit services or payment activities, it must comply with applicable laws and regulations as when it engages in these activities through other media,” the guidance reads.

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