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  • House Committee Okays Five Additional Flood Insurance Bills

    Federal Issues

    On June 21, the House Financial Services Committee (Committee) approved changes to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), passing five additional bills. As previously reported in InfoBytes, the committee passed two flood insurance measures on June 15. The approval of these latest bills completes a seven-bill package to reauthorize the NFIP.

    According to the committee’s press release, the five newly passed bills include:

    H.R. 2875 ,the “National Flood Insurance Program Administrative Reform Act of 2017”— introduced by Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-N.Y.)— is intended to help NFIP policyholders when challenging claim denials and to also cut down on claim fraud. The bill passed in a 58-0 vote.

    H.R. 1558, the “Repeatedly Flooded Communities Preparation Act” —introduced by Rep. Ed Royce (R-Cal.)—was approved by the committee in a voice vote. The bill will “ensure community accountability for areas repetitively damaged by floods” by requiring these flood-prone areas to design mitigation plans.

    H.R. 1422, the “Flood Insurance Market Parity and Modernization Act”— introduced by Rep. Dennis Ross (R-Fla.)—allows homeowners to use private flood insurance to satisfy the flood insurance mandate, if the private policies are sufficiently similar to NFIP insurance policies. This bill passed by a vote of 58-0.

    H.R. 2246, the “Taxpayer Exposure Mitigation Act of 2017”—introduced by Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.)—eliminates the requirement that commercial properties located in flood hazard areas must maintain flood insurance coverage.  Additionally, the measure will “provide for greater transfer of risk . . . to private capital and reinsurance markets,” and will allow state and local governments to develop their own flood maps. The committee approved the bill in a 36-24 vote.

    H.R. 2565, also introduced by Rep. Luetkemeyer, will “require the use of replacement cost value in determining the premium rates for flood insurance coverage.” The committee approved it in a 34-25 vote.

    Federal Issues House Financial Services Committee National Flood Insurance Program Federal Legislation Flood Insurance

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  • Second Circuit Affirms No Unilateral Revocation Under TCPA

    Courts

    On June 22, the Second Circuit held in Reyes v. Lincoln Automotive Financial Services, No. 16-2014-cv, 2017 WL 2675363 (2nd Cir. June 22, 2017), that the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) does not permit a consumer to unilaterally revoke his or her consent to be contacted by telephone when that consent was given as a “bargained-for consideration in a bilateral contract.” The defendant had leased an automobile from the plaintiff. As a condition of that lease agreement, the plaintiff consented to receive automated or manual telephone calls from the defendant. After the plaintiff defaulted, the defendant regularly called the plaintiff and continued to do so even after the plaintiff allegedly revoked his consent. To support his argument that the TCPA permits him to revoke his consent, the plaintiff relied on prior case law and a recent ruling from the FCC that stated that under the TCPA, “prior express consent” can be revoked. The Second Circuit, however, distinguished this case from those relied on by the plaintiff on the grounds that the prior cases and the FCC’s ruling support the proposition that consent not given in exchange for consideration, and which is not part of a binding legal agreement, can be revoked. The Court further stated that where the consent is not provided gratuitously but is instead an express provision of a contract, the TCPA does not allow such consent to be unilaterally revoked.

    Courts Litigation TCPA FCC Federal Issues Second Circuit

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  • CFPB Director Challenges House Financial Services’ Report on Bureau’s Role in Fraudulent Accounts Scandal Investigation

    Consumer Finance

    On June 14, CFPB Director Richard Cordray issued a letter to Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Tex.) in response to the House Financial Services Committee’s (Committee) June 6 interim majority staff report on the investigation of the role federal financial regulators played in detecting and remedying a major national bank’s practice of opening unauthorized bank accounts. As previously covered in InfoBytes, the Bureau issued a consent order to the bank last September over allegations that the bank employees’ improper sales practice of opening unauthorized accounts as part of an incentive compensation program was unfair and abusive. In his letter, Director Cordray defended the CFPB’s role in the investigation and detailed inaccuracies and errors in the Committee’s report.

    The Committee’s report notes that immediately after the September 8 CFPB announcement, the House Financial Services Committee began a “comprehensive investigation” to answer two questions: (i) “how and why [the bank] allowed these fraudulent activities to occur at a disturbing scale across the [b]ank for well over a decade”; and (ii) “whether or not federal financial regulators were effective in detecting and remedying [the bank’s] fraudulent branch sale practices.” According to the report, “[o]ver the course of six months, the CFPB only produced 1,010 pages of records comprised almost entirely of records easily obtainable from [the bank] or the OCC”—both of which, the report contends, have cooperated fully with the investigation. In April 2017, the CFPB received a subpoena but allegedly provided records previously produced by the bank. Due to a lack of cooperation, the Committee staff recommended the possibility of issuing deposition subpoenas to CFPB employees to investigate Director Cordray’s alleged failure to respond, as well as the suggestion of bringing contempt proceedings against Director Cordray to enforce compliance with the subpoena.

    Director Cordray responded that, among others things, the majority staff of the Committee refused to receive a September 2016 follow-up briefing from Bureau staff and failed to respond to his offer to publicly testify at a Committee hearing. Furthermore, Director Cordray states that the CFPB has submitted over 57,000 pages of records “in an effort to comply with the Committee’s broadly worded requests.” He notes the complaint about the documents in the CFPB’s production being “redundant of documents received from either [the bank] or the OCC, though the same point could be made in reverse,” and that his staff has repeatedly sought guidance from the Committee to narrow the scope but has yet to receive a response.

    In response to the Committee’s query as to why it took more than a decade to uncover the bank’s practice of opening unauthorized accounts, Director Cordray responded that the Bureau opened its doors in 2011—more than 10 years after the bank’s activities commenced according to the Committee’s report—and wasn't fully operational until 2014.

    Consumer Finance Litigation Mortgages CFPB House Financial Services Committee

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  • Judge Issues Ruling Ordering Unused Consumer Redress Funds to be Deposited in the Treasury

    Courts

    On June 20, a federal judge in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York ordered that leftover funds from a $50 million settlement must be transferred to the Treasury, ultimately ruling against a memorandum filed by the Attorneys General of Connecticut, Indiana, Kansas, and Vermont (State AGs) that sought to redirect the remaining $15 million to be used to “train, support and improve the coordination of the state consumer protection attorneys charged with enforcement of the laws prohibiting the type of unfair and deceptive practices alleged by the CFPB in this [a]ction.” (See previous InfoBytes summary here.) Notably, the judge stated, “the State AGs’ proposal does not reflect the [settling] parties' true intent . . . Nowhere in the Final Judgment or the Redress Plan is there any language supporting the State AGs’ view that leftover funds should broadly aid consumers.” The judge opines further that “[c]ondoning an unintended use of the settlement funds—in the absence of any other equitable relief reasonably related to the allegations of the Complaint—would be tantamount to misappropriating funds that otherwise should be in the public fisc.” The judge further noted that had the State AGs’ memorandum been granted, it would “permit State actors . . . to hijack a significant portion of the settlement funds under the guise of ‘consumer protection,’ all for the purpose of underwriting a project that principally benefits the States.”

    Courts Consumer Finance CFPB DOJ State AG Treasury Litigation

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  • FTC Releases Updates to COPPA Compliance Plan

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On June 21, the FTC released updated guidance designed to assist businesses when complying with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule (COPPA), which regulates what websites and online services are required to do to ensure the protection of children’s privacy and safety online. Specifically, the updates address the following issues: (i) the method by which companies monitor the collection of personal data as technology evolves in order to stay compliant; (ii) they ways COPPA impacts the “Internet of Things” as new “connected devices” continue to expand beyond websites and mobile apps; and (iii) new methods such as “ knowledge-based authentication questions and using facial recognition to get a match with a verified photo ID” to obtain parental consent. Additionally, the FTC revised its Six-Step Compliance Plan for Your Business to help companies determine whether they are covered by COPPA and how to comply with the rule.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance FTC Privacy Cyber Risk & Data Security Compliance Internet of Things

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  • OCC Issues New Comptroller’s Licensing Manual Booklet to Provide Guidance on Articles of Association Amendments, Charters, and Bylaws

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On June 19, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) released Bulletin OCC 2017-23 announcing a new booklet designed to provide consolidated guidance on several policies and procedures impacting national banks and federal savings associations when forming the framework of articles of association or charter documents. The “Articles of Association, Charter, and Bylaw Amendments” booklet, which is a part of the Comptroller’s Licensing Manual, covers:

    • regulatory requirements for articles of association, charters, and bylaws;
    • an overview of the process required to notify the OCC or obtain OCC approval of an amendment;
    • requirements for the content of the articles of association, charters, and bylaws;
    • actions a national bank or federal savings association should take during the amendment process; and
    • references and links to informational resources and sample documents that national banks or federal savings associations may use during the amendment process.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance OCC Enforcement

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  • OCC Announces May 2017 Enforcement Actions

    Federal Issues

    On June 16, the OCC released a list of new enforcement actions taken against national banks, federal savings associations, and former institution-affiliated parties as well as a list of existing enforcement actions that were terminated in May. The actions include cease and desist, civil money penalties (CMP), and removal/prohibition orders. Among the actions, a senior loan originator of an Illinois bank was ordered to cease and desist and pay a CMP of $8,000 due to breaches of fiduciary duty and unsafe or unsound practices involving the transfer via unencrypted email of confidential consumer financial information.

    Federal Issues OCC Enforcement

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  • Bipartisan Coalition of State Attorneys General File Petition to the FCC Seeking Broadband Consumer Protections

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On June 19, New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced a petition filed on behalf of a bipartisan coalition of 35 state attorneys general to jointly oppose a cable and telecommunications industry petition, which is intended to stop state and local authorities from enforcing state consumer protection laws and leave the regulating of broadband disclosure requirements to the authority of the FCC. In seeking a declaratory ruling from the FCC, the industry groups request confirmation and clarification on federal regulatory requirements governing broadband speed disclosures, and further assert that “national, uniform rules [are] particularly important” once the FCC launches procedures to implement a “national ‘light-touch framework.’” In response to the petition, the FCC filed a public notice for comment on May 17. The state attorneys general, in responding to the request, claim the petition “asks the FCC to convert a limited safe harbor from FCC’s own enforcement, into blanket federal and state immunity for fixed and wireless broadband companies from liability for false statements contained in advertisements and marketing.” Furthermore, they assert that the industry groups are seeking a ruling that exceeds the FCC’s authority, is “procedurally improper,” and would “upend the longstanding dual federal-state regulation of deceptive practices in the telecommunications industry—which would leave consumers across the country without the basic state protections from unfair and deceptive business practices.”

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Privacy Cyber Risk & Data Security State AG Disclosures

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  • Iowa Enacts Amendments to Consumer Credit Code

    State Issues

    Two amendments to the Iowa Consumer Credit Code (ICCC) recently signed into law by Iowa Governor Terry Branstad will go into effect July 1. The ICCC applies to, among others, consumer credit transactions, retail installment sales, lending transactions, and motor vehicle financing.

    Senate File 502, which relates to banks, credit unions, and specific consumer credit transactions, adds a new subsection 2A to the ICCC, which states a supervised loan made in violation of subsection 2 is void and “the consumer is not obligated to pay either the amount financed or the finance charge.” Additionally, “[i]f the consumer has paid any part of the amount financed or the finance charge, the consumer has the right to recover the payment from the [lender] . . . or from an assignee . . . who undertakes direct collection of payments or enforcement of rights arising from the debt.” Open-end loans have a statute of limitations of two years from the date of the violation, and closed-end loans have a statute of limitations of one year after the due date of the last scheduled payment. Other changes under Senate File 502 include a removal of the ban prohibiting returned check fees, an increase in the maximum late fee applied to transactions, and a clause that allows credit reporting charges to be excluded from finance charges.

    Senate File 503, which concerns “the deferral of unpaid installments and deferral charges for certain interest-bearing consumer credit transactions,” contains the following changes, among others: (i) parties may agree in writing to the deferral of unpaid installments before or after default, and (ii) deferral charges are permitted on closed-end, interest-bearing transactions and limited to $30.

    State Issues State Legislation Debt Collection Consumer Lending Consumer Finance

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  • PHH v. CFPB Update: PHH Counters CFPB’s Statute of Limitations Interpretation

    Courts

    On June 13, PHH Corporation sent a letter to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit responding to a June 7 letter from the CFPB that stated RESPA’s three-year statute of limitations is not applicable in its enforcement action against the company. In its letter, the CFPB cited a decision in Kokesh v. SEC where the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a five-year limit applies to civil penalties, and that, furthermore, “[d]isgorgement in the securities-enforcement context is a ‘penalty’ within the meaning of §2462, and so disgorgement actions must be commenced within five years of the date the claim accrues.” The Bureau further supported its argument for a five-year limit by claiming that RESPA’s three-year statute of limitations provision applies only to “actions” brought in a “United States district court or any other court of competent jurisdiction,” and its administrative proceeding against the company for alleged mortgage kickbacks was not an “action” under RESPA.

    In response, PHH countered that Section 2462 contains a “catch-all limitations period ‘[e]xcept as otherwise provided’ by Congress.” Thus, the D.C. Circuit panel was correct when it held that Congress “otherwise provided” a three-year statute of limitations under RESPA that applies to enforcement proceedings because in the “second part of Section 2614, the term ‘actions’ is not limited to actions brought in court.” PHH further asserts that Dodd-Frank “repeatedly uses the term ‘action’ to encompass court actions and administrative proceedings.”

    As previously covered in InfoBytes, on May 24, the D.C. Circuit, sitting en banc, heard oral arguments on the constitutionality of the CFPB. It did not indicate that it was inclined to revisit the panel’s determination that the Bureau misinterpreted RESPA when applying it to PHH’s practices.

    Courts Litigation Mortgages CFPB PHH v. CFPB RESPA

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