The CFPB said that mandatory arbitration clauses with class action litigation bans serve as a break on consumers recovering on small dollar disputes with credit card companies and other lenders. As a result, many consumers think they are unable to pursue small-dollar disputes or do not think that the ultimate payout would be worth the trouble, allowing companies to wrong consumers with little consequence, the CFPB said.
To address that problem, the CFPB said that companies would no longer be allowed to put such class action bans in their arbitration clauses, allowing consumers to band together in group lawsuits when they have suffered similar problems.
“Arbitration clauses in contracts for products like bank accounts and credit cards make it nearly impossible for people to take companies to court when things go wrong," CFPB Director Richard Cordray said in a statement. "These clauses allow companies to avoid accountability by blocking group lawsuits and forcing people to go it alone or give up.”
However, the rule does not ban arbitration clauses, which allow companies to take consumers into binding legal settlements with arbitrators paid for by the company. Consumer advocates had hoped the CFPB would take that step.
However, the rule does make changes to the arbitration process for individuals by forcing companies to submit information about individual cases to the bureau that would be published on the CFPB’s website. Included in the list of items companies will have to disclose are initial claims and counterclaims, answers to these claims and counterclaims, and awards issued in arbitration.
The information will be posted beginning in July 2019.