CFPB Issues Guidelines on Serving Limited English Proficiency (LEP) Consumers

Yesterday, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued a statement that provides financial services institutions with guidance on how to better serve consumers that have limited English proficiency (LEP). If this feels like déjà vu, it's likely because it sounds very similar to the LEP rule for debt collectors promulgated by New York City's regulator last year in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. While the policy behind each — the CFPB's statement and the NYC LEP rule — are similar, there are some differences, the biggest of which is that the CFPB statement contains guidelines, not rules. Read on to learn more.

The CFPB's statement discusses how LEP consumers are at risk of receiving different treatment than their English-speaking counterparts:

Currently, many LEP consumers are not fully integrated into the financial marketplace despite being a significant portion of the U.S. population (approximately 25.5 million individuals). Due to language access issues, LEP consumers face unique challenges in learning about and accessing financial products, services, and education tools; understanding and completing key financial documents; managing bank accounts; and resolving issues with financial products and institutions. For example, financial disclosures and written documents are generally not available in non-English languages.

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