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CFPB issues policy to clarify abusiveness standard

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issued a policy statement on Jan. 24 providing a framework for how it plans to apply the abusiveness standard in supervision and enforcement matters.

Pursuant to the policy statement, the bureau will focus on citing or challenging conduct as abusive in supervision and enforcement matters only when the harm to consumers outweighs the benefit.

It will also generally avoid dual pleading of abusiveness and unfairness or deception violations arising from all or nearly all the same facts, and it will also try to avoid alleging "stand-alone" abusiveness violations that clearly demonstrate the link between cited facts and the bureau's legal analysis.

Additionally, the CFPB will seek monetary relief for abusiveness only when there has not been a good-faith effort to comply with the law. However, the bureau will continue to seek restitution for injured consumers regardless of whether a company acted in good faith.

The CFPB will apply these principles during supervision and enforcement work, effective immediately.

The bureau also left the possibility open for a future rulemaking opportunity to further define the abusiveness standards.