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CFPB Aims To Streamline Consumer Credit Agreement Process

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau wants to give credit-card issuers — and itself — a break. Specifically, on Tuesday (Feb. 24) the CFPB proposed a one-year break from the requirement that card-issuing banks submit their consumer card agreements to be published on the bureau’s website.

Under the proposal, card issuers wouldn’t have to send the CFPB their agreements again until the end of April 2016. Issuers would still have to publish their agreements on their own websites, as required by the 2009 federal Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure (CARD) Act.

The CFPB’s website is intended to be a one-stop shop for consumers to compare card agreements. But in practice, it hasn’t worked out that way, and the CFPB wants to spend the rest of 2015 replacing its manual system for receiving, reviewing and posting the information.

The problem isn’t on the card issuers’ end. Banks have been emailing their agreements on the CFPB’s quarterly schedule. But according to the CFPB’s official proposal to suspend the submissions, “the current process for Bureau staff to manually review, catalog, and upload new or revised agreements to the Bureau’s website, and to remove outdated agreements, can extend for several months after the quarterly submission deadline.”

The CFPB admits that the email submission process may not be very issuer-friendly, either. “This process may be unnecessarily cumbersome for issuers and may make issuers’ own internal tracking of previously submitted agreements difficult,” the proposal says. The new system will let issuers upload agreements directly to the CFPB’s database, so they can be posted or updated more quickly on the bureau’s website.

In order to keep offering at least some kind of comparison information, the CFPB plans to manually collect card agreements from the websites of the biggest card issuers in September 2015. That should “provide the agreement terms available to the overwhelming majority of credit card consumers in the U.S. as of the mid-point of the proposed suspension period,” the proposal says. “This will allow consumers to continue to use the Bureau’s website to effectively compare agreements offered by various issuers.”

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