In December, we wrote about the CFPB’s announcement that it had opened an Ombudsman Office to assist in the resolution of individual and systemic issues that a depository entity, non-depository entity or consumer has with the CFPB. As part of the CFPB’s efforts to publicize the Office, Wendy Kamenshine, Acting Ombudsman, spoke about the Office’s role on February 28 in a teleseminar sponsored by the Consumer Data Industry Association.
Ms. Kamenshine indicated that her Office has jurisdiction to deal with: (1) supervision and enforcement “process issues”; (2) issues presented by consumers (which her Office expects to be ready to handle this spring); (3) supervisory appeals; and (4) inter-agency issues. She also indicated that her Office does not: (1) address issues in litigation; (2) delay any statutory or regulatory deadlines; (3) make decisions or legal determinations for the CFPB; (4) receive legal notice on behalf of the CFPB (e.g. for the purpose of satisfying any deadlines for notifying the CFPB’s Office of General Counsel); or (5) address internal human resource matters.
While a substantial portion of Ms. Kamenshine’s presentation was a review of information provided by the CFPB in its initial announcement, we thought two other items were worth noting. First, Ms. Kamenshine indicated that the CFPB is looking into the establishment of a supervisory appeals process. Second, as part of the Q&A that followed Ms. Kamenshine’s presentation, we raised “process” concerns about the participation of CFPB enforcement attorneys in examinations and information-gathering meetings with representatives of the supervised entity and the chilling effect on the attorney-client relationship resulting from the fear that enforcement attorneys will have access to attorney-client communications. Ms. Kamenshine indicated that she would share our concerns with others in the CFPB.
We applaud the CFPB’s efforts to educate industry about the role of the Ombudsman Office and will be watching to see if the Office proves to be a useful tool for industry.