On May 13 the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) published a Statement on Supervisory and Enforcement Practices Regarding Regulation Z Billing Error Resolution Timeframes in Light of the COVID-19 Pandemic (the statement).
The Truth in Lending Act generally requires that creditors investigate and resolve consumers’ billing error notices within specified maximum timeframes.
- Good news – The statement provides notice to creditors that the CFPB intends to take a flexible supervisory and enforcement approach with respect to those timeframes where creditors demonstrate a good faith effort to comply with their statutory and regulatory obligations.
- Stark Reminder – The CFPB emphasizes that this flexibility does not extend to certain required actions that creditors must take, nor does it extend to certain prohibited actions that creditors must not take, during the pendency of consumers’ billing error claims.
- Glaring Omission – The CFPB’s statement does not offer any protection against civil liability. If you fail to comply wuth Regulation Z the CFPB might not cite a violation but a consumer can still sue your financial institution and collect damages.
- Advice From Author – Continue to follow your established procedures. You must complete the resolution process within two complete billing cycles, but in no event later than 90 days after receiving the billing error notice. If it is impossible to do so because, for example, the merchant is temporarily closed due to the Pandemic, then document that you made a good faith effort to comply with their statutory and regulatory obligations, cross your fingers and hope for the best.