The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recently announced a whistleblower procedure for employees of financial companies and debt relief providers to use to anonymously submit complaints.
According to Venable law firm and Jonathan Pompan:
The Consumer Financial Protection Act (the “CFPA”), Title X of Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (the “Dodd-Frank Act”), enacted strong anti-retaliation protections for employees of consumer financial product and service companies who are retaliated against for disclosing information concerning fraudulent or unlawful conduct relating to a consumer financial product or service.
The protections apply to a wide range of employers from banks to nonbank financial service providers, such as organizations that extend credit, mortgage lenders and servicers, providers of financial advisory services, consumer reporting agencies, money transmitters, providers of prepaid cards, payday lenders, credit counselors and debt settlement providers, and debt collectors.
These tip channels will allow those inside employees to reach out to the CFPB and expose disturbing activities which take advantage of consumers and harm people financially.
Inside sources of information about violations may email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 855-695-7974 and ask to speak to a CFPB employee.
According to the CFPB:
“You may elect to provide information anonymously. However, providing your name and contact information may facilitate any subsequent investigation and successful remediation of illegal conduct. If you choose to disclose your identity and contact information to the Bureau, you may still request confidentiality. To the extent consistent with law enforcement needs, the Bureau will not disclose your identifying information and will maintain your confidentiality as permitted by federal laws such as the Privacy Act, the Freedom of Information Act and any applicable Bureau regulations.”
Employees of companies or any person with inside information is protected under the Dodd-Frank Act and it provides that no covered employer shall terminate or otherwise discriminate against any covered employee for:
- providing information to the employer, the Bureau, or any other state, local, or federal government authority or law enforcement agency relating to a violation of Federal consumer financial law;
- testifying about a potential violation;
- filing any lawsuit or other proceeding under any Federal consumer financial law; or
- objecting to or refusing to participate in violations of Federal consumer financial laws.
Debt Relief Companies Will Need to Be Careful
Debt relief companies that terminate an employee that may have submitted a whistleblower complaint to the CFPB will certainly expose themselves to actions by the Secretary of Labor regarding the dismissal of a known or unknown whistleblower.
Employees that believe they have been discharged or discriminated against in violation of this whistleblower provision have 180 days from the date of the alleged retaliation to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”). The DOL is authorized to investigate these complaints and order the appropriate relief upon finding that a violation has occurred.
Depending upon the circumstances of the case, “adverse” action can include:
- Firing or laying off
- Denying overtime or promotion
- Denial of benefits
- Failure to hire or rehire
- Making threats
- Reassignment affecting prospects for promotion
- Reducing pay or hours
Employees that want to file a complaint about retaliation may file their complaint online.
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