On March 16, 2022, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) announced that is using Unfair, Deceptive and Abusive Acts and Practices (UDAAP) rules to prevent discrimination in all consumer finance markets including credit, servicing, collections, consumer reporting, payments, remittances, and deposits. Examiners will require supervised companies to show their processes for assessing risks and discriminatory outcomes, including documentation of customer demographics and the impact of products and fees on different demographic groups. The CFPB will look at how companies test and monitor their decision-making processes for unfair discrimination, as well as discrimination under ECOA.

The CFPB has updated its exam manual for evaluating UDAAPs, which notes that discrimination may meet the criteria for “unfairness” by causing substantial harm to consumers that they cannot reasonably avoid, where that harm is not outweighed by countervailing benefits to consumers or competition. Consumers can be harmed by discrimination regardless of whether it is intentional. Discrimination can be unfair in cases where the conduct may also be covered by ECOA, as well as in instances where ECOA does not apply. For example, denying access to a checking account because the individual is of a particular race could be an unfair practice even in those instances where ECOA may not apply.

We will monitor the other federal regulatory agencies to see if they adopt a similar rule for financial institutions they regulate.