The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issued an interpretive rule this week that explains the basis for its authority to examine supervised financial institutions for risks to active duty servicemembers and their dependents (i.e., military borrowers) from conduct that violates the Military Lending Act (MLA).
“The Military Lending Act is an essential law protecting the finances of our military families, and we are excited to announce this rule change prior to July, which is Military Consumer Month,” said CFPB Acting Director Dave Uejio. “Through our enforcement of the MLA, companies that harmed military borrowers have been ordered to pay millions of dollars in redress and civil penalties. To fulfill its purpose and protect military borrowers, we must supervise financial institutions and hold them accountable for endangering consumers.”
In September 2013, the CFPB amended its supervisory procedures so that examiners could review lenders’ records regarding MLA violations. From that time until 2018, no companies disputed the CFPB’s authority to review their MLA lending practices.
In 2018, the CFPB’s leadership discontinued MLA-related examination activities, based on its stated belief that Congress did not specifically confer examination authority on the CFPB with respect to the MLA. The current CFPB leadership does not find those prior beliefs persuasive, and the CFPB will now resume MLA-related examination activities.
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