by Jeff Sovern
The Dodd-Frank Act gives the CFPB the power to act against entities within the CFPB's jurisdiction for engaging in abusive practices. See 12 USC 5531. Though that section explains what the limits are to the Bureau's power to proscribe abusive conduct, the industry has long claimed that it needs additional guidance as to what is abusive. The industry argues that the statute's ambiguity will cause a company to withhold from the market a product at least some consumers want because the company fears the Bureau will find the product abusive. There's just one problem with this scenario: despite the fact that the Dodd-Frank Act has been around since 2010, no one has actually identified such a product, at least not that I know of. I have just finished listening to the Bureau's excellent symposium on abusiveness (and if you care about what abusive means you should listen to it too) and I didn't hear a single example of such a product. If you know of such a product, please describe it in the comments. It's not just a consumer-advocate talking point; if such a product exists and can be discussed, it would make the debate about abusiveness much more concrete. In the meantime, if no one can identify such a product, the Bureau should take its time before issuing a guidance or other document concerning the meaning of abusive, just as the FTC took decades to issue policy statements explaining the meaning of unfairness and deception.