Remittance Companies in CFPB’s Crosshairs

By Jeremy McLaughlin and Judie Rinearson

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) recently announced settlements with two remittance transfer providers for violations of the Electronic Funds Transfer Act (EFTA) and the Remittance Rule, part of the regulation that implements the EFTA—an area in which there isn’t typically much CFPB enforcement activity.

In its settlement with Trans-Fast Remittance LLC, the CFPB found that the company violated the Remittance Rule because it, among other things, failed to adhere to error resolution requirements, provide refunds, and respond properly to cancellation requests.  In addition to the EFTA/Remittance Rule violations, the CFPB found the company violated the Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010’s prohibition against deceptive acts and practices.  According to the settlement, the company did so by making misleading statements in advertisements concerning the speed of remittance transfers and limiting consumers’ error resolution rights.  The company is required to pay $1.6 million in civil penalties.

The action against Sigue Corporation and its subsidiaries (“Sigue”), which resulted in a substantially smaller penalty,  (roughly $100,000 in consumer redress and a $300,000 civil money penalty), focused on more technical violations of the Remittance Rule. The major concern focused on Sigue’s failure to provide refunds to certain senders when the remittance was not available to the recipient on the date shown on the receipt.  Other violations appear to be more minor and technical, such as informing consumers by telephone, rather than with a written explanation, when an error had occurred or using the phrase “net before exchange” rather than “transfer amount” on the pre-payment disclosure.

But rules are rules. And it appears clear that the CFPB is giving a message to the remittance industry that it takes very seriously every line and word of the Remittance Rule and will prosecute even minor technical violations – whether or not such violations have caused any appreciable consumer harm.  

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