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  • FTC to Host Military Consumer Financial Workshop

    Lending

    On July 19, the FTC will host a free public workshop in San Antonio, entitled 2017 Military Consumer Financial Workshop: Protecting Those Who Protect Our Nation, to educate military consumers on financial issues and scams that they may face.

    The workshop with consist of five panel discussions led by FTC personnel as well as military consumer advocates, attorneys, legal services clinics, industry representatives, and government agencies. The panels will include the following topics:

    • auto purchase, financing, and leasing;
    • lending including student loans and installment loans;
    • debt collection;
    • legal rights and remedies; and
    • financial literacy and capability.

    Additionally, the workshop will include presentations on online promotions and protecting sensitive information, as well as encouraging financial readiness along with financial resources for military consumers.

    The FTC will hold the workshop at Trinity University in the Chapman Auditorium beginning at 8:30 am and preregistration is not required.

    Lending FTC Auto Finance Student Lending Debt Collection Installment Loans Consumer Finance Consumer Education Financial Literacy

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  • Maine Passes Law to Notify Secretary of State About Abandoned Motor Vehicles

    State Issues

    On June 21, LD 1251, “An Act Regarding Certain Abandoned Vehicles and Notice to the Secretary of State Regarding Those Vehicles” became law in Maine. The law applies to a vehicle left at a business after authorized repairs were made at the request of the vehicle owner, and to a vehicle left in storage when the vehicle owner has not paid the storage fee. The law requires the owner of a repair or storage facility or the owner’s agent to notify the Secretary of State within 14 days after the earliest date that the vehicle owner becomes responsible for unpaid repair or storage and towing fees. After notice is provided by the facility (or facility’s agent), the Secretary of State must notify the vehicle’s owner and lienholder that the vehicle is being claimed unless the charges against the vehicle are paid. If the Secretary of State is not notified within 14 days using the prescribed form, the owner of the auto repair business or storage facility cannot charge the vehicle owner more than 14 days of storage fees. The law will take effect 90 days following the adjournment of the legislative session.

    State Issues State Legislation Auto Finance Debt Collection

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  • Gap Waiver Act Promulgated in Maine

    State Issues

    On June 12, Maine Governor Paul LePage signed into law S.P. 531, “An Act To Amend the Usage and Consumer Protections of Guaranteed Asset Protection [GAP] Waivers.” The Act applies to finance agreements for motor vehicles in which the creditor offers, for a separate charge, to “cancel or waive all or part of the amount due on a borrower’s finance agreement . . . in the event of a total physical damage loss or unrecovered theft.” The GAP waiver agreement must either be included in the auto finance agreement or attached to it as an addendum, and the waiver remains part of the finance contract when the contract is assigned, sold, or transferred. Additionally, the Act provides that the waiver may be sold in the state for a single or monthly payment, but “may not be considered a finance charge or interest” when disclosed in compliance with the Truth in Lending Act.

    A required disclosure with a GAP waiver is a “free-look” period during which the borrower can cancel the waiver agreement and receive a full refund of costs paid for the waiver as long as no waiver benefits have been provided. The waiver contract must also provide clear instructions for the borrower to follow in order to obtain waiver benefits, and the method for calculating the amount of the refund due if the contract is cancelled or terminated early.

    The law takes effect on January 1, 2018.

    State Issues State Legislation Truth in Lending Act Auto Finance Installment Loans

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  • Nevada Passes Bill Revising Motor Vehicle Technology Device Provisions, Assigns Responsibility to Creditors and Lessors

    State Issues

    On June 12, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval signed into law SB 350, which amends deceptive trade practices provisions to prohibit certain creditors and lessors of motor vehicles from installing or requiring installation of certain GPS and starter interrupt devices without written notice. Specifically, the bill requires creditors or long-term lessors to either provide advance written notice to, or obtain written agreement from, the consumer purchasing or leasing the vehicle before installing or requiring the installation of GPS devices. Additionally, the creditor/lessor must receive a written agreement from the consumer consenting to installation and use of a starter interrupt device. The bill outlines requirements and restrictions on the use of these technology devices, and provides that “such technology devices generally are the responsibility of a creditor or long-term lessor or, if applicable, any successor in interest or another secured party . . . .” It further specifies that “such responsibility includes paying for certain costs associated with, and any damage to a motor vehicle that is caused by, the use of such technology devices.” With the passage of SB 350, any violation of the aforementioned is a “deceptive trade practice.” The law takes effect July 1, 2017.

    State Issues Auto Finance State Legislation

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  • OFAC Updates: New Sanction Designations and Additions to Specially Designated Nationals List

    Financial Crimes

    Recently, OFAC announced implementation of sanctions against several entities and individuals designated for, among others, materially assisting, sponsoring, or providing financial support to certain foreign entities. In addition, OFAC updated its list of Specially Designed Nations (SDN) and announced a settlement agreement with a Canadian-based motor vehicle finance company.

    North Korea Suppliers of Weapons Proliferation Programs. On June 1, OFAC announced it was taking action against six entities and three individuals in response to their involvement in North Korea’s continued efforts to develop weapons of mass destruction (WMD). The announcement targets the country’s military, nuclear, and WMD programs, in addition to its overseas financial operations. The sanctions prohibit any U.S. individual from dealing with the designees, and further states that “any property or interests in property of the designated persons in the possession or control of U.S. persons or within the United States must be blocked.” John E. Smith, the Director of OFAC, stated, “Treasury is working with our allies to counter networks that enable North Korea’s destabilizing activities, and we urge our partners to take parallel steps to cut off their funding sources.” These sanctions are in addition to those imposed earlier in April on eleven North Koreans and one associated entity (see previous InfoBytes coverage here).

    Iraq-Based Chemical Weapons Developers. On June 12, OFAC announced, for the first time, designations against individuals involved in the development of ISIS’ chemical weapons. The sanctions were pursuant to Executive Order 13224, which “provides a means by which to disrupt the financial support network for terrorists and terrorist organizations by authorizing the U.S. government to designate and block the assets of foreign individuals and entities that commit, or pose a significant risk of committing, acts of terrorism.” The property and interests in property of the two individuals identified in the designations, subject to U.S. jurisdiction, are blocked, and “U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with them.”

    Settlement Agreement with Motor Vehicle Finance Company. On June 8, OFAC announced it had reached a settlement with a motor vehicle finance company as a result of transactions by its Canadian based subsidiary. The enforcement action claims the majority-owned subsidiary, which “specializes in various forms of financing in the [U.S.] for purchasers, lessees, and authorized independent [auto] dealers,”—between 2011 and 2014—allegedly violated 13 Cuban Assets Control Regulations by leasing vehicles to the Cuban Embassy in violation of OFAC’s Blocked Persons and SDN list, which prohibited transactions with Cuban government entities. The company voluntarily self-disclosed the alleged violations and agreed to remit $87,255 to settle its potential civil liability.

    Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Sanctions. On May 24 and 25, OFAC made additions to the SDN list, which designates individuals and companies who are prohibited from dealing with the U.S. and whose assets are blocked. Transactions are prohibited if they involve transferring, paying, exporting, or otherwise dealing in the property or interest in property of an entity or individual on the SDN list. Additions to the list were made under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Sanctions Regulations against several Mexican and Colombian individuals and entities.

    Financial Crimes Sanctions OFAC Treasury Department Enforcement Auto Finance

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  • Alabama Enacts Law Regarding Refund Obligations

    State Issues

    On May 26, Governor Kay Ivey signed into law HB 420, which authorizes and regulates the transactions of guaranteed asset protection (GAP) waivers related to vehicle loans. Importantly, the law requires that if the GAP waiver is cancelled due to early termination of the finance agreement, “the creditor shall provide, or cause the administrator or retail seller to provide, within 60 days of termination, any refund due to a borrower without requiring the borrower to request cancellation of the waiver.” Furthermore, cancellation refunds can be applied toward the amount owed under the finance agreement unless it has proven to be paid in full. The law goes into effect January 1, 2018.

    State Issues State Legislation Auto Finance

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  • Vehicle Financing Company Owners Plead Guilty to $11 Million Fraud

    Lending

    On May 25, the Massachusetts U.S. Attorney’s Office announced that two vehicle financing company owners (Defendants) entered guilty pleas admitting to counts of mail and wire fraud. The Defendants’ company raised capital by securing investments from individuals to fund its operations. In 2015, the DOJ filed a criminal complaint alleging the Defendants represented to investors that retirement account funds could be rolled over into investments held by the company without triggering the payment of income taxes on the transferred monies. Investors allegedly transferred retirement funds based on these representations, and the Company ultimately lost more than $11 million of the investors’ money. However, the Defendants allegedly never obtained approval from Treasury for the company to act as an authorized custodian or trustee of retirement funds as required in order for the rules permitting tax-free transfers to apply, and therefore solicited the investment funds based on “deceptive acts, false and fraudulent statements and misrepresentation of material facts.” The company ultimately filed for bankruptcy. The plea agreements stipulate maximum penalties of “20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater, a mandatory special assessment of $100, restitution, and forfeiture to the extent charged in the Indictment” and can be accessed here and here. Sentencing is set for September 20, 2017.

    Lending Auto Finance Fraud UDAAP State Issues

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  • Special Alert: District Court Confirms Telephonic Consent to Preauthorized ACH Debits Complies with ESIGN and EFTA

    On February 17, a U.S. District Court in Nashville, TN found that a creditor complied with both the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act[1] (“ESIGN”) and the Electronic Fund Transfer Act[2] and its implementing regulation, Regulation E[3] (collectively “EFTA”) when it obtained a consumer’s “written” authorization over the telephone to enroll in recurring ACH payments and mailed a paper copy of the authorization to the consumer two days later.[4]  This case (“Blatt”) is significant because it clarifies and confirms much of the existing understanding of the interaction between ESIGN and the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act, and provides precedent for advancing the validity of widespread industry practices in other courts.


    [1] 15 U.S.C. § 7001, et seq.

    [2] 15 U.S.C. § 1693, et seq.

    [3] 12 C.F.R. §1005.1, et seq.

    [4] Blatt v. Capital One Auto Finance, [Memorandum and Order] No. 2:15-cv-00015, 2017 WL 660677 (M.D.Tenn. Feb. 17, 2017).

    ***
    Click here to read full special alert.

    If you have questions about the ruling or other related issues, visit our FinTech and Auto Finance practice pages for more information, or contact a Buckley Sandler attorney with whom you have worked in the past.

    Special Alerts Fintech Auto Finance

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  • CFPB Unveils Web-based Tool To Deliver Regular Updates on Consumer Lending Markets

    Federal Issues

    On December 19, the CFPB announced the release of “Consumer Credit Trends,” a beta version of its new web-based tool to help the public monitor developments in the mortgage, credit card, auto loan, and student loan markets. According to the Bureau, the data used by Consumer Credit Trends “draws from a nationally representative sample of credit records maintained by one of the top three U.S. credit repositories.” The CFPB plans to update this information regularly, and will offer analyses on notable findings as warranted. It also clarifies that “before being provided to the Bureau,” the credit records are “stripped of any information that might reveal consumers’ identities, such as names, addresses, and Social Security numbers.” The ability to “chart the state of consumer markets,” says CFPB Director Richard Cordray, “will help us identify and act on trends that warn of another crisis or that show credit is too constricted.”

    Federal Issues Mortgages Consumer Finance Credit Cards CFPB Auto Finance Student Lending Payments

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  • California and Missouri Expand Vehicle Service Contracts

    Consumer Finance

    On September 16, California Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 2354, a bill that expands the definition of a “vehicle service contract” to include agreements to repair, replace, or maintain any of the vehicle’s mechanical components, conditioned upon the use of a specific lubricant, treatment, fluid, or additive. The law goes into effect on January 1, 2017. In similar fashion, the Missouri legislature recently voted to override the Governor’s veto of HB 1976, thus expanding the definition of “extended service contracts” to include tire and wheel replacement, dent repair, key and key fob replacement, and other ancillary services as approved by the Director of Insurance. The Missouri law will also eliminate the requirement that a provider pay a full refund to the contract holder if the contract is cancelled during the initial 20-day period, providing instead the option to give a credit to the contract holder or a specified designee.

    Auto Finance Governors

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