In Win for CFPB, Federal Court Clarifies Scope of “Substantial Assistance” and “Service Provider” Provisions of Dodd-Frank Act

In the first court decision to opine on the “service provider” and “substantial assistance” provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act, a federal district court in Georgia denied a motion to dismiss brought by payments processors who had been sued by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) for their role in an alleged phantom debt collection scheme. The decision addresses two novel areas of the CFPB’s jurisdiction – its ability to enforce the prohibition against unfair, deceptive, and abusive acts and practices (“UDAAPs”) against “service providers,” and its ability to go after those individuals and entities that “knowingly or recklessly provide substantial assistance” to the commission of a UDAAP. While grounded in the specific facts pled in the CFPB’s detailed complaint, the opinion nevertheless provides insight into how the federal courts may interpret these provisions, and serves as a warning sign to companies about the importance of implementing robust compliance programs.

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