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  • CFPB Releases Biennial Credit Card Report

    Consumer Finance

    On December 27, the CFPB released its biennial report on the state of the U.S. credit card market, finding that the total amount of credit lines, the total number of credit accounts, the total number of enrollments in online services, and the total amount of debt have increased since 2015. The report also found that the overall credit card cost to consumers has “proved largely stable” since 2015. Among other things, the report concludes:

    • The total amount of credit lines has increased steadily since the recession but still remains below the mid-2008 high of $4.4 trillion.
    • Over the last two years, credit card debt averages have increased by more than nine percent.
    • Credit card originations have increased by roughly 50 percent since 2010 but still remain below pre-recession volumes.
    • More than 60 percent of active credit card accounts enroll in online services.

    Consumers average fewer credit cards than before the recession, and more consumers are signing up for secured credit cards.

    Consumer Finance CFPB Credit Cards

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  • Supreme Court Rejects Tribal Lenders’ Petition to Avoid CFPB CID

    Courts

    On December 11, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected without comment a petition from online tribal lending entities to appeal a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision that ordered the entities to comply with a CFPB investigation related to small-dollar loan products. As previously covered by InfoBytes, the entities argued that due to tribal sovereignty, the CFPB does not have jurisdiction over the small-dollar lending services. The CFPB urged the Supreme Court to deny the petition, arguing that the Court’s review is unnecessary because “[t]he question at this juncture is solely whether the Bureau may obtain information from petitioners pursuant to a CID,” not “whether petitioners are subject to the Bureau’s regulatory authority.” 

    Courts Consumer Finance CFPB U.S. Supreme Court Payday Lending

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  • CFPB Ombudsman’s Office Publishes Fiscal Year 2017 Annual Report

    Consumer Finance

    The CFPB’s Ombudsman’s Office published its annual report to the Director for fiscal year 2017, entitled Advocating for Fair Process in Consumer Financial Protection. The December 6 report details Ombudsman initiatives undertaken in 2017 and highlights the Bureau’s selection as one of four case studies in a December 2016 study by the Administrative Conference of the United States (ACUS) on the use of ombudsmen in federal agencies. Specifically, the Bureau’s report focuses on systemic reviews concerning the following: (i) the accessibility of CFPB print materials for different groups of people; (ii) the telephone entry point for non-consumers; (iii) the documenting and standardizing of ex parte communications regarding proposed rules; and (iv) the implementing of improvements to the way consumers select categories when identifying issues with companies in the consumer complaint database.

    The Ombudsman’s report also outlines strategic goals for the next two years, including, among other things, (i) addressing CFPB process issues facing consumers, financial entities, and trade groups; (ii) optimizing resources for effective assistance; and (iii) expanding educational efforts and engagement with stakeholders, in addition to implementing best practices to convey feedback. 

    Consumer Finance CFPB Consumer Complaints

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  • FDIC’s OIG Issues Evaluation of Agency’s Implementation of ATR/QM and Loan Originator Rules

    Federal Issues

    On December 6, the FDIC’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) released an evaluation report to examine how the agency implements certain consumer protection rules concerning consumers’ ability to repay mortgage loans and limits for loan originator compensation. The OIG report, FDIC’s Implementation of Consumer Protection Rules Regarding Ability to Repay Mortgages and Compensation for Loan Originators (EVAL-18-001), focused on the FDIC’s Division of Depositor and Consumer Protection (DCP), which is responsible for implementing the Ability to Repay/Qualified Mortgage (ATR/QM) and Loan Originator rules and tracking violations of the rules. The report found that the DCP “incorporated these rules into its examination program, trained its examiners, and communicated regulatory changes to FDIC-supervised institutions.” However, based on a sample of 12 examinations, the OIG also determined that examination workpapers generally needed improvement, finding (i) inconsistent documentation by examiners on decisions to exclude compliance testing for the ATR/QM and Loan Originator rules, and (ii) in certain circumstances, incomplete, incorrect, or improperly stored examiners’ workpapers, “which would preclude someone independent of the examination team from fully understanding examination findings and conclusions, based on the workpapers alone.”

    OIG further noted that, because DCP’s examination practices did not include tracking the number of institutions subject to the rules or recording how frequently examiners tested for compliance, any identified variances among the FDIC’s six regional offices could not be assessed for significance due to lack of context.

    As a result of these findings, the OIG made several recommendations for the DCP to strengthen its compliance examination process, including:

    • “research potential reasons for the regional variances in the number of rule violations by banks in the FDIC’s six regional offices”;
    • “track the aggregate number of FDIC-supervised institutions in each region that are subject to the rules”;
    • “track how often examiners test for compliance with the rules”; and
    • ‘‘take steps to improve workpaper documentation and retention.”

    The DCP agreed to implement these recommendations June 30, 2018.

    Federal Issues OIG FDIC Ability To Repay Qualified Mortgage Consumer Finance Loan Origination Mortgages Examination

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  • OCC Allows Closure of Certain Financial Institutions Affected by Wildfires in California

    Federal Issues

    The OCC issued a proclamation on December 7 allowing national banks and federal savings associations affected by wildfires in California to close. The OCC encouraged the affected offices to make every effort to reopen as quickly as possible and to consult OCC Bulletin 2012-28 for guidance on certain actions the institutions should consider implementing for customers in affected disaster areas, previously covered by InfoBytes here

    Federal Issues OCC Disaster Relief Consumer Finance

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  • FTC Announces Settlement With Debt Collection Operation

    Consumer Finance

    This week, the FTC obtained a court order banning a Florida-based debt collection operation and its managing member from the debt collection business. The defendants were accused of violations of the FTC Act and the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act for, among other things, allegedly posing as lawyers and threating individuals with lawsuits or prison time if they failed to pay debt they did not actually owe. The order resolves a complaint filed by the FTC in July against defendants. (See previous InfoBytes coverage here.) Under the terms of the settlement, the defendants are prohibited from, among other things, (i) engaging in debt collection activities; (ii) misrepresenting material facts regarding financial-related products or services; (iii) disclosing, using, or benefiting from consumers’ personal information; and (iv) improperly disposing such information when appropriate. Finally, the order assessed a $702,059 judgment for equitable monetary relief. 

    Consumer Finance FTC Debt Collection Settlement

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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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  • FTC Seeks Order to Stop Alleged Telemarketing Debt Relief Scam

    Consumer Finance

    On December 4, the FTC announced that it charged two debt relief companies and five individuals with violations of the FTC Act and the Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) in connection with their sale of “bogus” credit card interest rate reduction services. According to the complaint, the defendants contacted consumers using illegal robocalls and made false guarantees to “substantially and permanently” lower the consumers’ credit card interest rates and/or save the consumer thousands of dollars in interest payments. However, the scheme rarely obtained the promised results. In some instances where consumers did get lower interest rates, those rates were only temporary “teaser” rates that did not result in a permanent rate reduction. In addition, defendants failed to disclose the associated balance transfer fees that accompanied the lower teaser rates. The FTC also charged the defendants with TSR violations for (i) collecting illegal upfront fees; (ii) making illegal robocalls; (iii) contacting consumers on the National Do Not Call Registry; and (iv) not paying the required fees to the Registry. The FTC charged one additional individual defendant with substantially assisting the two debt relief operations with the allegedly illegal conduct. The FTC is seeking a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the defendants, requesting the appointment of a receiver to control the two corporate entities, and an asset freeze to assist in potential consumer redress.

    Consumer Finance FTC Credit Cards Debt Settlement Telemarketing Sales Rule

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  • Fed Fines Kansas State Bank for Alleged Deceptive Mortgage Acts

    Consumer Finance

    On November 28, the Federal Reserve Board (Fed) announced it had entered into a consent order with a Kansas state bank over allegations that the bank engaged in deceptive mortgage origination practices in violation of the FTC Act. Specifically, the order alleges that the bank told borrowers that they were paying for discount points that would lower their interest rate, but did not in fact provide those borrowers an interest rate reflective of the price paid for the discount points or, in some cases, a reduced rate at all. The Fed’s order requires the bank to pay restitution to the affected borrowers, but did not impose a further civil money penalty. The bank has decided to terminate all operations of its national mortgage business by year-end 2017.

    Consumer Finance Federal Reserve Mortgages FTC Act Settlement

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  • CFPB Releases Report on Consumers’ Overdraft Experiences

    Consumer Finance

    On November 21, the CFPB released a report summarizing findings from a qualitative study about consumers’ experiences with overdraft programs. The study consisted of one-on-one interviews by telephone with 88 individual consumers from May 2014 through June 2014 (the report does not comment on the three-year gap between the interviews and the release). According to the CFPB, the study was not designed to identify systematic trends but instead to provide an in-depth review of consumers’ experiences. The report concluded that consumers need a wide range of educational resources to support the varying experiences and perceptions they have with overdraft services. For example, the report notes that while some consumers commented on unexpected overdraft fees after miscalculating the timing of transaction processing, others noted their intentional use of overdraft options to make purchases or pay bills. The CFPB encouraged financial educators to develop their own overdraft resources with the awareness that consumers may use and interpret programs in varying ways and provided a list of CFPB resources available for use.

    Consumer Finance CFPB Overdraft Consumer Education

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