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Professionals concerned about uncertain future, CFPB enforcement actions

A recent survey by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau found that uncertainty regarding future CFPB enforcement was the number one concern among 50 in-house lawyers, business and compliance professionals polled.

Next week marks the one year anniversary of the CFPB’s operational beginning. Though Kent Markus, head of the CFPB’s enforcement division, has yet to take action against any firm, many industry professionals are concerned about what the enforcement actions will look like.

“Past experience suggests that a new agency with a new mandate will focus on making a high-profile initial impact,” the survey said, Law.com reports. “The survey indicates that the greatest concern about the CFPB is fear of the unknown.”

Some respondents voiced concern regarding the agency’s rule-making position on unfair, deceptive and abusive practices, and almost 80 percent of respondents expect CFPB oversight to cause an increase in their firm’s regulatory costs by at least 20 percent.

To date, 12 percent of respondents reported that their firms have been subpoenaed or contacted by the agency regarding examinations or investigations. Seventy-six percent, however, said that their firms have already formed procedures designed to handle CFPB inquests. Additionally, 32 percent of respondents reported that they have sought outside counsel in preparation for a CFPB examination, according to Law.com.

Respondents also voiced concern regarding the confidentiality of information acquired by the CFPB during examinations, saying that “information shared with [state attorneys general] could find its way to plaintiffs’ lawyers—which may fuel class action litigation,” Law.com reports.

“Overall, while respondents are greatly concerned about the uncertainty surrounding the CFPB, they view the agency as an additional layer of regulation on top of existing regulatory overseers,” the survey said, according to Law.com.

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