What’s old is new again. 2021 will bring a new U.S. Administration and hopefully positive developments with regard to the COVID-19 pandemic, but it also is likely to see further adverse economic impacts. Various financial models are predicting differing trajectories for potential recession and economic recovery. What we do know is that 2020 has resulted in sizeable income loss and employment interruption for many. In the face of all this challenge, the CFPB is likely to focus in 2021 on consumer loss mitigation process and transparency. Getting it right is paramount for lenders and servicers as 2021 customer contact volumes will increase with the potential sunset of COVID-19 relief measures.

Recently, the CFPB announced a consent decree with Seterus, Inc. and its successor-in-interest Kyanite Services, Inc. The clear priority is helping consumers avoid foreclosure, a risk we know will continue throughout 2021.  The lengthy consent decree covers loss mitigation conduct from 2014 through 2018, years in the past. But the violations asserted and the consent Decree conclusions preview 2021 priorities and hot buttons. Transparency and accountability are two themes that should serve consumer lenders and servicers well and mitigate regulatory and litigation risk.  Importantly, the Order highlights risks associated with process automation in servicing. In addition to laser focus on requirements and process, lenders and servicers may want to consider adopting customer experience approaches like ombudspeople or “secret shoppers” to get a real sense of how employees and systems are interacting with and serving customers.

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