Updated: Jun 2, 2022
Consumers must not be reasonably able to avoid the injury. An act or practice is not considered unfair if consumers may reasonably avoid injury. Consumers cannot reasonably avoid injury if the act or practice interferes with their ability to effectively make decisions or to take action to avoid injury. Normally the marketplace is self-correcting; it is governed by consumer choice and the ability of individual consumers to make their own private decisions without regulatory intervention. If material information about a product, such as pricing, is modified after the consumer has committed to purchasing the product, or withheld, the consumer cannot reasonably avoid the injury. Moreover, consumers cannot avoid injury if they are coerced into purchasing unwanted products or services or if a transaction occurs without their knowledge or consent. Consumers cannot reasonably avoid discrimination.
A key question is not whether a consumer could have made a better choice. Rather, the question is whether an act or practice hinders a consumer’s decision-making. For example, not having access to important information could prevent consumers from comparing available alternatives, choosing those that are most desirable to them, and avoiding those that are inadequate or unsatisfactory. In addition, if almost all market participants engage in a practice, a consumer’s incentive to search elsewhere for better terms is reduced, and the practice may not be reasonably avoidable.
For an injury to be reasonably avoidable, consumers must have practical means to avoid it, and the actions that a consumer is expected to take to avoid injury must be reasonable. While a consumer might avoid harm by hiring independent experts to test products in advance or by bringing legal claims for damages in every case of harm, these actions generally would be too expensive to be practical for individual consumers and, therefore, are not reasonable. There are many instances where consumers simply have no mechanism to avoid the injury. For example, consumers typically cannot avoid the harms of discrimination.
Management and Policy-Related Examination Procedures
Identify potential UDAAP concerns by reviewing all relevant written policies and procedures, customer complaints received by the entity or by the CFPB, internal and external audit reports, statistical and management reports, and examination reports. Determine whether:
i. The entity has a process to prevent discrimination in relation to all aspects of consumer financial products or services the entity offers or provides, which includes the evaluation of all policies, procedures and processes for discrimination prior to implementation or making changes, and continued monitoring for discrimination after implementation.
j. The entity’s compliance program includes an established process for periodic analysis and monitoring of all decision-making processes used in connection with consumer financial products or services, and a process to take corrective action to address any potential UDAAP concerns related to their use, including discrimination.
Availability of Terms or Services as Advertised
Evaluate whether product(s) and service(s) that consumers are receiving are consistent with the disclosures and policies. For each product and service being reviewed, select a sample that:
b. The entity offers products and services to consumers in a manner that prevents discrimination.
c. Consumers receive the specific product or service that they request.
Potential Areas for Transaction Testing
Through a high-level assessment of the entity’s products, services, and customer base, identify areas for potential transaction testing. This process should determine whether:
m. The entity fails to evaluate and make necessary adjustments and corrections to prevent discrimination.