On Thursday, March 1, 2012, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau ("CFPB") announced that it was expanding its online complaint system to accept consumer complaints regarding checking and savings accounts. This follows on the heels of a February 22, 2012 announcement that the CFPB is investigating checking account overdraft practices. With its most recent announcements, it is clear that the CFPB is now focused on bank deposit account practices, after initially targeting mortgage and credit card issues.
CFPB Director Richard Cordray first announced this expansion of the consumer complaint system in a Huffington Post article, which was later reprinted on the CFPB's website. Mr. Cordray's announcement cites the "critical role [that deposit accounts play] in the lives of most Americans," and states that "[w]e have heard story after story of consumers being hit with fees they did not expect and do not understand." Banks are expected to respond to consumer complaints within 15 days, and close out the complaints within 60 days. Mr. Cordray's announcement does not, however, describe the manner in which consumer complaints through the CFPB website will be transmitted to the appropriate bank.
Many banks are currently evaluating the fees they assess on deposit accounts in the wake of declining fee revenue, class action litigation and "Occupy Wall Street" backlash. In doing so, banks must be mindful of current CFPB initiatives in addition to the rules and regulations of the traditional prudential regulators. Our financial institutions attorneys are experienced in helping banks navigate this complex regulatory landscape to make necessary business decisions, and in defending banks in litigation challenging those business decisions.