The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau “CFPB” announced plans today to implement an early warning enforcement action plan (“the Early Warning Notice“) which would allow those under investigation the ability to respond to the CFPB. The CFPB Bulletin 2011-04 (Enforcement) announced the first in a series of periodic bulletins the CFPB will release which are aimed at providing information about the policies and priorities of the CFBP’s Bureau of Enforcement.

Before the Office of Enforcement recommends that the Bureau commence enforcement proceedings, the Office of Enforcement may give the subject of such recommendation notice of the nature of the subject’s potential violations and may offer the subject the opportunity to submit a written statement in response. The decision whether to give such notice is discretionary, and a notice may not be appropriate in some situations, such as in cases of ongoing fraud or when the Office of Enforcement needs to act quickly.”

It is important to note that if the subject(s) of an investigation is asked to provide the Bureau of Enforcement a response statement and the subject prepares and submits the response statement under oath to the Bureau the response may be discoverable by third parties.

The Early Warning Notice also allows any person involved in an investigation to voluntarily submit a written statement at any point during an investigation.

According to the CFPB:
The CFPB created the Early Warning Notice processes solely for the administrative use of its employees. It is not intended to nor should it be construed to: (1) restrict or limit in any way the CFPB’s discretion in exercising its authorities; (2) constitute an interpretation of law; or (3) create or confer upon any person, including one who is the subject of a CFPB investigation or enforcement action, substantive or procedural rights or defenses that are enforceable in any manner.”

A sample Early Warning Notice can be found by clicking here.

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