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New Guidelines for Financial Institutions Serving LEP Customers

Published on March 03, 2021 by Nicole Coen

On January 13, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released a statement encouraging financial institutions to make their products and services more accessible to limited-English-proficient (LEP) customers.

By releasing these guidelines, the CFPB aims to “promote access to financial products for all consumers; facilitate compliance by providing clear rules of the road; and educate and empower consumers to make better informed financial decisions.”

According to CFPB’s research, some financial institutions are concerned about compliance risks and uncertain how to address their LEP consumers’ needs. The CFPB created guidelines to help financial institutions develop policies that better serve LEP customers while remaining compliant with relevant laws and regulations.

The CFPB outlined these guidelines in two parts:

Guiding Principles for Serving LEP Consumers

When serving LEP consumers, financial institutions may want to consider applicable federal, state, and other legal requirements such as the Dodd-Frank Act and the Equal Employment Opportunity Act (ECOA) and the size, complexity, and risk profile of your financial institution. Some concrete suggestions included:

  1. Introducing pilot programs or phased implementations
  2. Providing LEP consumers with clear disclosures in non-English languages to inform them of the level of language services support provided
  3. Establishing communication channels to help LEP consumers ask questions and receive additional information
  4. Increasing access to credit for certain LEP consumers by extending credit within a legally compliant special purpose credit program

Guidelines for Developing Compliance Solutions

The CFPB recommends that financial institutions consider:

  1. Language Selection. Consult documented and verifiable data when determining in which languages to offer language services. Collect consumers’ language preferences or reference the US Census Bureau for demographic or language data.
  2. Language Preference Collection and Tracking. The CFPB states that financial institutions may collect and track customer language information in lawful ways, but should ensure that this data is not used in a way that violates applicable laws.
  3. Product and Service Selection. Which products and services most significantly impact consumers? Look at consumer data to see which services LEP consumers use most frequently. This will help you determine which communications to offer in non-English languages. The CFPB advises financial institutions to review relevant policies and procedures for features that may demonstrate risk of unlawful discrimination.
  4. Translated Documents. Some state and federal laws may require financial institutions to provide consumers with translated documents in certain circumstances. Otherwise, consider whether and how to provide translated documents that will most significantly impact consumers.

There are multiple ways and approaches to determine how to better serve LEP consumers and mitigate compliance risks. Connect with us at to learn more about how CyraCom can help.


About CyraCom

In business for 25 years, CyraCom is a language services leader that provides interpretation and translation services to thousands of organizations across the US and worldwide.

Providing the best language services is a complex formula, and CyraCom considers every piece of the equation: quality, availability, security, speed and accessibility, and client support.