Community bankers have long harbored concerns about fair lending laws, but the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's enforcement potential has executives flat-out spooked.

In areas such as mortgages, credit cards and auto loans, the CFPB has fostered an "almost adversarial relationship" when dealing with banks' lending practices, especially when it involves potential discrimination, says Scott Nininger, director of risk management at Union First Market Bankshares in Richmond, Va.

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