Fast-Approaching Effective Date of Prepaid Rule Leaves Little Time to Address Significant Compliance Challenges
On February 27, 2019, from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. ET, Ballard Spahr will host a webinar on compliance with the Prepaid Rule.
After several years of rulemaking, amendments, and delays, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's (CFPB) Prepaid Rule is finally set to take effect on April 1, 2019. This rapidly approaching effective date means that prepaid issuers have only two months left to confirm that their prepaid programs and materials are fully compliant with the Rule's complex and specific new requirements.
The Rule brings most prepaid accounts within the consumer protection regime of the Federal Reserve's Regulation E. The Rule also applies certain Regulation Z requirements to prepaid products involving credit features. On top of the existing complexity of those regulations, the Rule adds provisions unique to prepaid accounts, including rigorous and specific requirements for pre-acquisition short- and long-form disclosures and disclosures on the prepaid access device itself.
Because much of the Rule applies uniformly across the spectrum of prepaid products, many of its real-world applications will require significant analysis beyond the language of the Rule itself, the CFPB's samples and illustrations, and currently available guidance. This compliance challenge will require deep familiarity with the existing Regulation E and Regulation Z frameworks, the Rule and its rulemaking background, commentary on the Rule's in its current form, and the practical and legal implications of prepaid products.
Some of the complicated applications of the Rule include:
- Proper formatting and wording of the pre-acquisition short- and long-form disclosure documents. Both formatting and wording require deep analysis where a prepaid product differs from the CFPB's samples and illustrations;
- Determining how many and which additional fees and fee types to disclose on the pre-acquisition short-form disclosure;
- Adequately describing each and every fee on the long-form disclosure, including appropriate categorization and grouping of fee types;
- Navigating the provisions and exceptions applicable to retail and telephone acquisition contexts;
- Understanding other specific requirements and exceptions, including the tests and thresholds applicable to the posting and submission of cardholder agreements and the re-printing of existing consumer disclosure materials;
- Applying Regulation Z requirements to hybrid prepaid accounts with credit features, including disclosures and substantive provisions;
- Determining where changes to the specific provisions for payroll or government benefit cards are required; and
- Harmonizing new terms and references across all existing product materials without jeopardizing compliance with Regulation E and Regulation Z, as amended by the Rule.
Prepaid issuers and other entities involved with the provision of prepaid products should take advantage of the remaining time before the Rule goes into effect to confirm that their prepaid programs and documentation are fully compliant. Compliance risks are particularly significant for prepaid programs in which a third-party program manager or similar entity with more limited compliance resources is responsible for preparing disclosures and consumer-facing materials. It is even more important in such programs to bring adequate expertise into the review process early enough to work through necessary changes.
Confirming complete compliance with the Rule will require more analysis and diligence than many entities are accustomed to performing in the existing and relatively well-defined worlds of Regulation E and Regulation Z. The universe of prepaid products involves countless unusual or unique features that will not fit neatly within the CFPB's new framework or model forms. In addition, because the Rule is new and interpretive guidance is limited, the compliance challenge it presents will be particularly difficult.
On February 27, 2019, from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. ET, Ballard Spahr attorneys will hold a webinar, "The Prepaid Rule Takes Effect: Considerations for Fully Implementing the CFPB's Prepaid Accounts Rule," to discuss these key compliance challenges and considerations ahead of the Rule's effective date. The webinar registration form is available here.
Ballard Spahr's Consumer Financial Services Group is nationally recognized for its guidance in structuring and documenting new consumer financial services products, its experience with federal and state consumer credit laws throughout the country, and its skill in litigation defense and avoidance, including pioneering work in pre-dispute arbitration programs.
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