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CFPB, FTC reach deal to prevent duplicative oversight

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The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission signed an agreement this week, saying the agencies will work together to avoid regulatory redundancies when enforcing rules that impact lenders and other financial services firms. The CFPB is the offspring of the Dodd-Frank Act, which passed in 2010 and gave the agency enforcement authority over the Truth-in-Lending Act as well as other mortgage servicing and financial services practices. The FTC also protects consumers from unfair trade practices, an area that often overlaps with the mortgage lending and consumer finance segment. The two agencies said they will meet regularly to coordinate law enforcement efforts, rulemaking activities and other services. In addition, each agreed to inform the other agency before launching an investigation or enforcement action against a firm. The contract also stipulates the agencies will meet routinely to discuss rulemaking and guidance initiatives, while also sharing all consumer complaints that reach their respective organizations. The FTC's enforcement actions often intersect with the mortgage finance space that is now mostly under the oversight of the CFPB. Last July, the FTC mailed more than 450,000 checks totaling $108 million to homeowners who were allegedly overcharged on their mortgages by Countrywide Financial Corp., which is now part of Bank of America (BAC). In April, the FTC sent $1.5 million in refund checks to Hispanic borrowers who alleged they were charged more than warranted on their mortgages. The FTC filed that suit against California-based Golden Empire Mortgage. The CFPB could not assume its top cop role in the lending space until the recent appointment of director Richard Cordray. As of Jan. 12, the CFPB is investigating the mortgage insurance practices of PHH Corp. (PHH) to see if the agency violated the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act. Write to Kerri Panchuk.

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