FTC, CFPB members answer questions for NIADA dealers

How the Federal Trade Commission will enforce the Safeguards Rule, which went into effect June 9, was one of the main topics Wednesday as independent automobile dealers took advantage of the opportunity to ask members of the FTC and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau questions about the agencies.

Dan Dwyer, an attorney in the Division of Financial Practices at the FTC, held the first of two sessions Wednesday with dealers during NIADA Accelerate 2023. His second session is at 10 a.m. Thursday.

Dwyer reminded dealers the intent of the Safeguards Rule and its update is to protect consumer information.

“The commission hopes to incorporate technological developments to protect consumer information,” Dwyer said.

“The Safeguards Rule revisions are also to push firms to do something affirmative [to protect data] instead of after the fact.”

The updated rules approved in October 2021 require financial institutions to designate a “qualified individual” to oversee their security program, develop a written risk assessment, limit and monitor who can assess customer information, encrypt information, train security personnel, develop a response plan, assess security practices of service providers and implement multi-factor authentication for any individual accessing customer information.

Penalties can range up to $46,517 per violation.

There are a few exemptions to some of the rules for small businesses. Dwyer addressed a few of those, reminding dealers even small businesses are not exempt from all the rules. The exemptions also apply to businesses with non-public information on fewer than 5,000 consumers. They also do not have to be customers.

“It’s only partial. You still have to figure out your vulnerabilities,” Dwyer said. “All the risk assessment applies, just exempt from being in writing.”

Dwyer also briefly covered a few recent cases handled by the FTC in response to consumer complaints about discriminatory practices with rates and fees.

Chris Kukla, Senior Program Manager for Auto Finance at the CFPB, also answered questions about the agency’s monitoring of the credit market. He will hold a second session at 9 a.m. Thursday.

“Affordability is a key metric we pay attention to,” Kukla said.

Wrongful repossessions has been an issue the agency has looked to address. He pointed out wrongful repossessions has been mentioned in the last five supervisory highlights published by the agency.

“It’s incumbent on services to know the repossession is valid,” Kukla said. “Making sure information is accurate is important. When there’s an invalid repossession there’s usually a failure in the systems, processes and communication.”

Richard Furlong, Communication & Liason Dvision, Senior Stakeholder Liaison at the IRS, will be addressing questions about tax requirements for the motor vehicle industry and providing the latest details on the most recent changes from the IRS during a single session at 2:45 p.m. Thursday

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