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  • Illinois Appellate Court rules generic card agreement cannot compel arbitration

    Courts

    On January 4, the Illinois Appellate Court (Fifth District) handed down an opinion affirming a circuit court’s decision to deny a debt collection company’s motion to dismiss and compel arbitration. In 2015, the company filed complaints against defendants-counterplaintiffs for failing to make payments on their accounts and entering into default. In class action counterclaims, the defendants-counterplaintiffs challenged the debt collection company’s alleged practice of suing to collect debt purchased from others without “sufficient proof of ownership of the debt,” and sought damages for purported violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, among others. The debt collection company argued that because the class action counterclaims fell within the scope of a binding card agreement—which included an arbitration clause and a class action waiver provision—the class claims should be barred and dismissed. The circuit court considered whether the agreements entered into between the company and the defendants-counterplaintiffs were subject to arbitration, and determined that the company failed to demonstrate that the card agreement containing the arbitration clause was received by, agreed to, or otherwise applied to the consumers within the agreements governing the accounts in question. The appellate court affirmed and concluded that, upon review, the company’s appeal failed to “demonstrate when or how the generic [c]ard [a]greement containing the arbitration provision pertained to [defendants-counterplaintiffs] or that it was communicated . . . prior to subsequent credit card use.”

    Courts Arbitration Debt Collection State Issues FDCPA

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  • Mortgage Servicer Agrees to Pay $45 Million in Nationwide Settlement

    State Issues

    On January 3, a mortgage servicer entered into a $45 million settlement with 49 state attorneys general and the District of Columbia for alleged mortgage servicing delinquencies. The settlement resolves a complaint, filed on the same day in the D.C. District Court, that alleges that between 2009 and 2012 the servicer, among other things, failed to (i) timely and accurately apply payments; (ii) maintain proper documentation to establish standing for foreclosure; (iii) respond to borrower complaints and reasonable requests for assistance; (iv) properly process loan modification applications; and (v) properly oversee third party vendors responsible for foreclosure operations. The $45 million settlement payment includes $30.4 million in restitution to homeowners; $5 million in attorney’s fees and investigative costs and fees payable to the state attorneys general whose offices led the investigation; and almost $9 million in administrative penalties to state mortgage regulators. In addition to the settlement payments, the settlement also requires the mortgage servicer to comply with a set of “Servicing Standards” outlined in the consent judgment and to submit quarterly reports to the state attorneys general Executive Committee for a period of three years.

    In response to the settlement, the mortgage servicer stated that it admits no wrongdoing and is currently using the adopted new Servicing Standards. 

    State Issues State AG Mortgage Servicing Mortgages

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  • International Bank Settles With California AG for $125 Million for RMBS Misrepresentations

    State Issues

    On December 22, the California Attorney General announced a $125 million settlement with an international bank to resolve allegations of misrepresentations while selling residential mortgage-backed securities to California’s public employee and teacher pension funds. According to Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s office, an investigation found that descriptions of the RMBS “failed to accurately disclose the true characteristics of many of the underlying mortgages” to the state investors. Additionally, the international bank allegedly failed to adequately perform due diligence checks to remove poor quality loans from the investment pool, leading to millions of dollars of loss to the pension funds.

    State Issues State AG RMBS Settlement Mortgages

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  • Ohio Governor Signs Residential Mortgage Lending Act

    Lending

    On December 22, Ohio Governor John Kasich signed legislation enacting amendments to the state’s residential mortgage lending act. HB 199, among other things, (i) updates certain definitions, such as modifying the definition of “nationwide mortgage licensing system and registry” to broadly include “persons providing non-depository financial services”; (ii) provides limits on the application of the current law to “unsecured loans and loans secured by other than residential real estate”; and (iii) updates requirements for applicants registering for mortgage loan originator licenses. The amended act becomes effective 90 days after being signed into law.

    Lending State Issues State Legislation Mortgage Lenders Mortgages Debt Collection

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  • NYDFS updates cybersecurity regulation FAQs

    Privacy, Cyber Risk & Data Security

    Recently, the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) updated its answers to FAQs relating to 23 NYCRR Part 500. As previously covered in InfoBytes, 23 NYCRR Part 500 took effect March 1 and establishes cybersecurity requirements for banks, insurance companies, and other financial services companies. The December updates to the FAQs address risk-based requirements affecting covered entities, including the following topics; (i) penetration testing and vulnerability assessments; (ii) third-party service provider due diligence requirements; (iii) limited notices of exemption; and (iv) record requirements.

    Privacy/Cyber Risk & Data Security State Issues NYDFS

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  • Pennsylvania Governor Signs Law Concerning Mortgage Servicing Activities

    State Issues

    On December 22, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed into law SB 751, an act amending Title 7 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes to regulate certain mortgage servicing activities. The amendments revise existing definitions, define new terms, establish mortgage servicing licensing requirements, create single point of contact requirements, and set forth specific steps that mortgage servicers must complete as soon as mortgage loans are paid in full. The law also requires, effective December 22, the promulgation of regulations to incorporate the CFPB’s mortgage servicing regulations. The remaining sections of SB 751 go into effect on the date that the new promulgated regulations are issued.

    State Issues State Legislation Debt Collection Mortgage Servicing

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  • State AGs Sue Department of Education for Withholding Promised Student Loan Debt Relief

    State Issues

    On December 14, state attorneys general from California, Massachusetts, Illinois, and New York, filed lawsuits (see here and here) against the U.S. Department of Education (Department) in federal courts in California and Washington, D.C., accusing the Department of withholding student loan debt relief to tens of thousands of borrowers determined to have been defrauded by a now-defunct chain of for-profit colleges. According to the complaints, the Department promised borrowers expedited discharges of their federal student loans, reimbursements of previously paid amounts, and, according to the California complaint, “streamlined review procedures” to quickly process relief. However, the attorneys general made a variety of claims, including asserting that the Department has (i) since January 20, 2017, delayed approval of all pending borrower-defense claims; (ii) pursued unlawful debt-collection actions against borrowers, such as seizing students’ tax refunds and garnishing their wages in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act; and (iii) failed to justify the “disparate and unequal treatment of similarly situated claimants.” In addition to a request that the court vacate denials of covered borrower-defense claims, the attorneys general seek, among other things, that the Department (i) resume discharging the loans of affected borrowers; (ii) cease the alleged unlawful collections; and (iii) according to the Massachusetts, Illinois, and New York lawsuit, provide ancillary relief “including refunding amounts already seized from . . . borrowers pursuant to the unlawful certification for offset or administrative wage garnishment.”

    The lawsuits follow other challenges and proposals of state attorneys general to the Department related to its oversight of federal student loans (see previous InfoBytes coverage here, here, and here).

    State Issues State AG Student Lending Department of Education Debt Relief

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  • Seventeen State AGs Express Mulvaney Concerns to Trump and Emphasize AG Consumer Protection Authority

    State Issues

    On December 12, seventeen state attorneys general sent a letter to President Trump expressing concern about OMB Director Mulvaney leading the CFPB. The AGs emphasize Mulvaney’s past criticisms of the Bureau as evidence that Mulvaney should be disqualified from the position, even in the acting capacity. Notably, the AGs stress their statutory authority to enforce state and federal consumer protection laws, noting they “will continue to enforce those laws vigorously regardless of changes to CFPB’s leadership or agenda.” They go on to state that if the CFPB does not do the job, the states will “redouble our efforts at the state level to root out such misconduct and hold those responsible to account.”

    The letter, led by New York AG Eric Schneiderman, was signed by the following state AGs: California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington State.

    State Issues Federal Issues CFPB Succession State AG

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  • Credit Reporting Agencies Must Comply With Emergency Regulations

    Privacy, Cyber Risk & Data Security

    On Tuesday, New York State adopted emergency regulations intended to “provide consumers with the means to protect themselves against identity theft” and assist those consumers who have fallen victim to such theft.  The New York Department of State’s Division of Consumer Protection (the Division), which has the authority to promulgate rules and regulations related to consumer protection activities of all state agencies, announced the adoption of regulations as part of its Identify Theft Prevention and Mitigation Program (the Program). In a press release issued December 12 by the office of New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, the regulations will require consumer credit reporting agencies to comply with the following, among other things:

    • provide responses within 10 days to information requests made by the Division when investigating, mediating, or mitigating a consumer’s identity theft complaint;
    • identify dedicated points of contact to assist the Division’s effective administering of the program;
    • make available to the Division a list and description of all business affiliations and contractual relationships that provide identity theft and credit monitoring-related products or services; and
    • clearly disclose all fees associated with offered products and services marketed to prevent identity theft, and inform consumers of trial and cancellation provisions.

    Consumer credit reporting agencies will be required to comply with these regulations, effective immediately. A to-be-announced public comment period will occur prior to the regulations’ final adoption.

    As previously covered by InfoBytes, New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) has taken several steps to address cybersecurity concerns, including a September 18 announcement that the state would expand cybersecurity standards to cover credit reporting agencies. Under the proposed regulation, credit reporting agencies would be subject to compliance examinations, would be required to initially register with NYDFS, and would be required to comply with cybersecurity regulations starting on April 4, 2018, in accordance with a phased-in compliance schedule.

    Privacy/Cyber Risk & Data Security State Issues Data Breach Credit Rating Agencies NYDFS

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  • Virginia AG Announces Settlement With Internet Lender Over Licensing Claims and Origination Fees

    State Issues

    On November 30, Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring announced a settlement with a Chicago-based “open-end credit plan internet lender” to resolve alleged violations of the Virginia Consumer Protection Act (VCPA). Specifically, the Attorney General’s Office alleged that the lender misrepresented that it was licensed to conduct lending activity in Virginia and charged unlawful origination fees during a statutorily required grace period. According to a press release issued by the Attorney General’s office, the settlement requires the lender to provide more than $3 million of refunds and interest forgiveness to borrowers, and pay the state $30,000 in civil money penalties, costs, and fees. The settlement also contains a permanent injunction that prohibits the lender from misrepresenting its status as a licensed Virginia lender and violating the VCPA.

    State Issues State AG Consumer Finance Anti-Predatory Lending Settlement

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