Q: How may a creditor orally provide the payment obligation disclosure required under 32 CFR 232.6(a)(3) to meet the requirements of 32 CFR 232.6(d)(2)?
A: Section 232.6(a)(3) requires a creditor to provide to a covered borrower, before or at the time the borrower becomes obligated on the transaction or establishes an account for the consumer credit, a clear description of the payment obligation of the covered borrower, as applicable. A payment schedule (in the case of closed-end credit) or an account-opening disclosure (in the case of open-end credit) provided pursuant to the requirement to provide Regulation Z disclosures satisfies this obligation. Therefore, a creditor may orally provide the information in a payment schedule or an account-opening disclosure to a covered borrower. However, an oral recitation of the payment schedule or the account-opening disclosure is not the only way a creditor may comply with § 232.6(a)(3). A creditor may also orally provide a clear description of the payment obligation of the covered borrower by providing a general description of how the payment obligation is calculated or a description of what the borrower’s payment obligation would be based on an estimate of the amount the borrower may borrow. For example, a creditor could generally describe how minimum payments are calculated on open-end credit plans issued by the creditor and then refer the covered borrower to the written materials the borrower will receive in connection with opening the plan. Alternatively, a creditor could choose to generally describe borrowers’ obligations to make a monthly, bi-monthly, or weekly payment as the case may be under the borrowers’ agreements.
Neither the MLA nor the MLA regulation specifies particular content or format for the requirement of a clear, oral description of the payment obligation. Also, nothing in the MLA or the MLA regulation requires that the clear description of the payment obligation provided in writing must be the same as the oral disclosure, provided that both disclosures are clear and accurate. As explained in the supplementary information to the Department’s July 2015 Final Rule, the Department’s approach has been to interpret the MLA’s oral disclosure requirement in a manner that provides creditors ‘‘straightforward mechanisms’’ that afford ‘‘latitude to develop the same (or consistent) systems to orally provide the required disclosures—regardless of the particular context . . .’’ The requirement of a clear, oral payment obligation disclosure has sufficient breadth that creditors may choose a variety of acceptable oral disclosure compliance strategies. Thus, under the Department’s approach, a generic oral description of the payment obligation may be provided, even though the disclosure is the same for borrowers with a variety of consumer credit transactions or accounts.