Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Asserts Supervisory Authority Over Installment Lender World Acceptance

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) recently announced that it will extend its supervisory authority to include installment lender World Acceptance. This move marks a critical step in the agency’s efforts to ensure compliance with federal consumer financial protection laws across a broader range of financial entities.

The CFPB is tasked with overseeing various financial firms to ensure their adherence to federal consumer financial protection laws. Traditionally, this supervision has extended to nonbank entities in certain industries such as mortgage and payday lending, service providers to banks and credit unions, and larger players in specific markets defined by rule.

However, in 2022, upon conducting an assessment of its supervision program, the CFPB identified a gap in its oversight. It recognized that it was not fully utilizing a specific legal authority that allowed it to supervise entities posing risks to consumers. To rectify this, the CFPB began to employ this previously dormant authority and issued procedures to enhance transparency about this regulatory tool.

As per CFPB’s new procedures, the agency issues a notice to an entity not currently subjected to a supervisory examination. The entity then has the option to either consent to supervision or contest the notice. These notices have typically been based on consumer complaints and other indicators suggesting potential risk to consumers.

Supervisory examinations are confidential processes that aid companies in identifying and rectifying potential violations of law. Most entities that have received such notices have chosen to consent to supervision. These entities span a wide array of industries within the consumer financial services sector.

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Now, the CFPB is publicly issuing its first supervisory designation order in a contested matter, aligning with its procedural rules. The agency has determined that World Acceptance Corporation meets the legal requirements for supervision. By making this order public, the CFPB seeks to provide transparency about how it assesses risks using consumer complaints and other factors.

However, it is important to note that the CFPB’s order does not imply any finding of wrongdoing on the part of World Acceptance. The designation only means that the company will now be subject to routine supervisory examinations to ensure compliance with federal consumer financial protection laws.

The implications of this development extend beyond World Acceptance Corporation. By flexing its dormant authority and extending its supervision to more entities, the CFPB is signaling its commitment to safeguard consumer rights and interests in a broader spectrum of the financial industry.

For consumers, this could mean better protection against potential financial malpractices. For financial entities, it serves as a prompt to ensure strict adherence to federal consumer financial protection laws or face potential scrutiny from the CFPB.

As the CFPB continues to expand its supervisory reach, it sends a clear message to the financial industry: consumer protection is paramount, and all entities, irrespective of their size or nature of business, must comply with the laws designed to protect consumers. This proactive approach by the agency could be a game-changer in the realm of consumer financial protection, setting a precedent for regulatory bodies nationwide.

Read the supervisory designation order here.

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