Skip to main content
Menu Icon Menu Icon
Close

InfoBytes Blog

Financial Services Law Insights and Observations
Section Content

Upcoming Events

Filter

Subscribe to our InfoBytes Blog weekly newsletter for news affecting the financial services industry.

  • Legislation Introduced to Reduce Mortgage Appraisal Requirements in Rural Communities

    Federal Issues

    On July 13, Representative David Kustoff (R-Tenn.) introduced legislation intended to decrease costs and delays when obtaining a mortgage by reducing appraisal requirements. As set forth in a July 13 press release issued by Rep. Kustoff’s office, the Securing Access to Affordable Mortgage Act of 2017 (H.R. 3221) would (i) ease “unfair” appraisal requirements, which would benefit rural communities where there is a demonstrated lack of qualified appraisers, and (ii) assist prospective homebuyers by decreasing costs and delays. H.R. 3221 would increase access to affordable mortgages by excluding loans of $250,000 or less from property appraisal requirements through new exemptions under the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act of 1989 and the Truth in Lending Act.

    As previously discussed in InfoBytes, earlier this year several financial agencies jointly issued an Interagency Advisory to address concerns regarding the shortage of certified and licensed appraisers, particularly in rural areas.

    Federal Issues Federal Legislation Mortgages TILA Appraisal

    Share page with AddThis
  • CFPB Seeks Comments on Proposed Amendments to Prepaid Rule, Releases Updated Small Entity Compliance Guide

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On June 15, the CFPB announced a request for comment on proposed amendments to Regulation E, which concerns prepaid accounts under the Electronic Fund Transfer Act (EFTA) and the Truth in Lending Act (Regulation Z). According to the Bureau, the request aims to address prepaid companies’ concerns over “unanticipated complexities” regarding certain aspects of the rule. As previously covered in InfoBytes, in April the CFPB issued a final rule delaying the general effective date to April 1, 2018. The prepaid rule provides consumers, among other things, additional federal protections under EFTA on prepaid financial products, person-to-person payment products, and other electronic accounts with the ability to store funds. Specifically, the proposed amendments would impact error resolution requirements for unregistered accounts, enhance flexibility for credit cards linked to digital wallets, and open for consideration whether a further delay to the rule’s effective date is necessary due to the proposed amendments or if safe harbor provisions should be added for early compliance. The proposal also addresses amendments affecting the following: (i) the exclusion of loyalty, award, or promotional gift cards; (ii) “unsolicited issuance of access devices and pre-acquisition disclosures”; and (iii) submission of account agreements to the Bureau. Comments are due 45 days after the request is published in the Federal Register.

    Separately, on the same day, the Bureau released an updated edition of its small entity compliance guide for the prepaid rule. The guide notes the new effective date, and also offers clarification on prepaid reload packs, the consistent use of fee names and other terms, foreign language disclosure requirements, URL names in short form disclosures, mobile accessible transaction histories, account agreement submissions to the Bureau, and clarification that stipulates “reversing a provisional credit does not otherwise trigger Regulation Z coverage under the Prepaid Rule.”

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance CFPB Prepaid Rule EFTA TILA Regulation E Regulation Z Prepaid Cards

    Share page with AddThis
  • CFPB Withdraws CID, Petition to Enforce CID is Moot Due to Lack of Subject-Matter Jurisdiction

    Courts

    On June 8, the CFPB filed a petition to withdraw a 2015 CID issued to a financial services company concerning its structured settlement and annuity payment purchasing activities, and subsequently agreed to the dismissal of the petition to enforce the CID as moot due to lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. The action stems from a petition filed by the company to set aside the CID, arguing that structured settlements and annuity payment purchasing is not an extension of credit, nor qualifies as a consumer financial product. Therefore, the company claimed, its business activities do not fall under the CFPB’s UDAAP or Truth in Lending Act authority. The Bureau denied the petition, and in June 2016, it filed a memorandum in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania for an order requiring the company to comply with the CID, asserting that “regulations authorize the Bureau to petition the district court in ‘any judicial district in which [that entity] resides, is found, or transacts business’ for an order to enforce the CID.” However, on June 5, the CFPB filed a notice to withdraw stating that “[b]ecause the CID is no longer active, the Bureau intends to soon dismiss the Petition,” and asked the court to “refrain from ruling on the petition.” The CFPB did not disclose a reason for its decision to withdraw the CID.

    Notably, before the dismissal, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (Chamber) filed an amicus brief opposing the CFPB’s petition. The Chamber opined that, should the CFPB be allowed to issue CIDs under a “virtually unlimited definition of the term ‘financial advisory services,’” under which it would include “advice with a financial element offered in connection with transactions unrelated to a consumer financial product,” it would expand the Bureau’s jurisdiction beyond the limits of Dodd-Frank’s prohibition on unfair, deceptive, and abuse acts and practices.

    Courts CFPB CIDs UDAAP TILA Litigation Financial Advisers

    Share page with AddThis
  • FDIC Releases List of Enforcement Actions Taken Against Banks and Individuals in April 2017

    Courts

    On May 26, the FDIC released its list of 18 administrative enforcement actions taken against banks and individuals in April. Among the consent orders on the list are civil money penalties for violations of the Flood Disaster Protection Act of 1973 and its flood insurance requirements. Also on the list are a cease and desist order and a civil money penalty assessment issued to a Louisiana-based bank (Bank) for violations of the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA), EFTA, RESPA, TILA, HMDA, and the National Flood Insurance Program. According to the cease and desist order, the FDIC Board of Directors agreed with the Administrative Law Judge’s recommended decision that the Bank engaged in unsafe or unsound practices, which warranted a cease and desist order and civil money penalty. The order also addressed a number of shortcomings identified by the Bank’s examiners, including the following: (i) the Bank’s BSA program lacked adequate internal controls to ensure compliance; (ii) it failed to provide correct and compete electronic funds transfer disclosures to consumers; (iii) borrowers were provided “untimely and improperly completed” good faith estimates; and (iv) the Bank repeatedly failed to accurately report required HMDA information to federal agencies.

    An additional eight actions listed by the FDIC related to unsafe or unsound banking practices and breaches of fiduciary duty, including five removal and prohibition orders. There are no administrative hearings scheduled for June 2017. The FDIC database containing all of its enforcement decisions and orders may be accessed here.

    Courts Consumer Finance Enforcement FDIC Litigation National Flood Insurance Program Bank Secrecy Act EFTA RESPA TILA HMDA

    Share page with AddThis
  • FTC Submits Annual Report on 2016 Enforcement Actions to CFPB

    Consumer Finance

    On June 1, the FTC announced that it submitted its 2016 Annual Financial Acts Enforcement Report to the CFPB. The report—requested by the Bureau for its use in preparing its 2016 Annual Report to Congress—covers the FTC’s enforcement activities related to compliance with Regulation Z (Truth in Lending Act or TILA), Regulation M (Consumer Leasing Act), and Regulation E (Electronic Funds Transfer Act or EFTA), as well as its initiatives to engage in research and consumer education.

    According to the report, the FTC’s enforcement actions in 2016 concerning TILA involved automobile purchasing and financing, payday loans, and financing of consumer electronics. Regarding mortgage-related credit activity, the report highlights continued litigation in two cases involving mortgage assistance relief services involving “forensic audit scams.” Furthermore, the FTC continued its consumer and business education efforts on issues related to consumer credit transactions in the following areas: military lending, auto sales and financing, payday lending, marketplace lending, and consumer disclosures and testing.

    Regarding the Consumer Leasing Act, the report noted the FTC had issued a final administrative consent order for deceptive advertising practices and failure to disclose key lease offer terms. The FTC also filed two federal court actions against automobile dealers. The FTC also engaged in research and policy development and educational activities in this area.

    Concerning the EFTA, the FTC reported six new or ongoing cases, including four cases alleging violations in the context of “negative option” plans, in which a consumer agrees to “receive various goods or services from a company for a trial period at no charge or at a reduced price” but later incurs unauthorized recurring charges after the end of the trial period, in violation of the EFTA. The remaining two cases involved payday lending and consumer electronics financing. The FTC also engaged in rulemaking, research, policy development, and educational activities involving the EFTA.

    Consumer Finance CFPB FTC Enforcement Litigation Marketplace Lending TILA Consumer Leasing Act EFTA Mortgages

    Share page with AddThis
  • CFPB Sues Online Lenders Following Investigation into Debt Collection Practices

    Consumer Finance

    On April 27, the CFPB announced that it filed a suit against four online installment lenders for allegedly deceiving customers by collecting debts they were not legally owed. In a complaint filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, the Bureau claims, among other things, that the lenders engaged in unfair, abusive, and deceptive acts—a violation of Dodd-Frank—by collecting on installment loans that are partially or wholly void under state law. The Bureau further claims that lenders violated the TILA for failing to disclose the annual percentage rate for their loans when they were required to do so. The complaint alleges that the lenders originated, serviced, and collected high-cost, small-dollar installment loans. Since at least 2012, consumers could borrow between $300 and $1,200 with annual percentage rates from 440 percent up to 950 percent. These high-cost loans allegedly violate licensing requirements or usury limits in a least 17 states—thus rendering the loans void in whole or in part. The CFPB asserts that the lenders not only misrepresented that consumers were obligated to pay debts that were void, but also reinforced the misrepresentations through actions such as sending letters, making phone calls demanding payment, and originating ACH debit entries from consumers’ bank accounts.The complaint seeks a permanent injunction prohibiting the lenders from committing future violations of federal consumer financial law, as well as other legal and equitable relief including restitution to affected consumers, disgorgement of ill-gotten revenue, and civil money penalties.

    Consumer Finance CFPB TILA Debt Collection UDAAP

    Share page with AddThis
  • Rep. Luetkemeyer Introduces CLEARR Act to Provide Regulatory Relief to Community Banks

    Federal Issues

    On April 26, Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.) introduced the Community Lending Enhancement and Regulatory Relief Act of 2017 (CLEARR Act) (H.R. 2133) designed to provide community financial institutions with regulatory relief from certain burdensome federal requirements. Among other things, the CLEARR Act would limit the authority of the CFPB by raising the asset size threshold for CFPB supervision from $10 billion to $50 billion and amend Section 1031 of the Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010 by removing the term “abusive” from the CFPB’s “unfair, deceptive, or abusive” acts or practices authority. The CLEARR Act would also provide relief in the mortgage lending area by exempting community banks from certain escrow requirements and amend the Truth in Lending Act by adding a safe harbor for qualified mortgage loans held in portfolio. Moreover, the CLEARR Act would repeal all regulations issued to implement the Basel III and NCUA capital requirements. It would also repeal the Dodd-Frank Act provision amending the Equal Credit Opportunity Act to require collection of small business and minority-owned business loan data, as well as prohibit federal banking agencies from requiring depository institutions to terminate a specific account or group of accounts unless the agency has a material reason not based solely on reputational risk.

    Rep. Luetkemeyer—who is a senior member on the House Financial Services Committee and the Chairman of the Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Subcommittee—also issued a statement after President Trump called for the Treasury Secretary to conduct reviews of the Orderly Liquidation Authority and Financial Stability Oversight Council: “As a former bank examiner, community banker, and Chairman of the Financial Institutions Subcommittee, I have long advocated for eliminating the OLA, because it puts taxpayers on the hook for bailouts, instead of putting private companies on the hook for bankruptcy. For years, I have also introduced legislation to change FSOC’s arbitrary designation processes, which lead to higher costs, fewer services, and less available credit for American consumers. The American people deserve financial independence and I look forward to working with President Trump and my colleagues to help them achieve it.”

    Federal Issues CFPB Community Banks NCUA TILA UDAAP Dodd-Frank ECOA

    Share page with AddThis
  • Trade Organizations Express Opinions on Proposed Legislation Regarding PACE Financings

    Federal Issues

    On April 24, various trade associations submitted a joint letter to U.S. Representatives Brad Sherman (D-CA) and Edward Royce (R-CA) expressing their opinions on the legislators’ recently-introduced bill, the Protecting Americans from Credit Entanglements (PACE) Act of 2017 (H.R.1958). The PACE Act of 2017 would, among other things, require specific consumer disclosures for Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financings—a financial product that allows homeowners to pay for energy-efficient retrofitting (such as solar panels and high-efficiency air conditioners) through their property tax assessments. More than 30 states currently have PACE programs. The proposed legislation and its companion bill, S. 838, introduced by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) in the Senate, would subject PACE financing originators and sales personnel to TILA requirements.

    Federal Issues Congress Lending PACE Programs TILA

    Share page with AddThis
  • Department of Education Withdraws Student Loan Guidance; Bipartisan Legislation Introduced to Require APR Disclosure on Federal Student Loans

    Lending

    On March 16, the U.S. Department of Education (Department) Acting Assistant Secretary Lynn B. Mahaffie notified relevant agencies that the Department is withdrawing statements of policy and guidance regarding repayment agreements and liability for collection costs on Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP) loans as previously stated in its July 10, 2015 Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) GEN 15-14. GEN 15-14 barred a "guaranty agency from charging collection costs to a defaulted borrower who (i) responds within 60 days to the initial notice sent by the guaranty agency after it pays a default claim and acquires the loan from the lender; (ii) enters into a repayment agreement, including a rehabilitation agreement; and (iii) honors that agreement.” The Department emphasized that the "position set forth in the DCL would have benefited from public input on the issues discussed in the DCL,” and as a result, the Department has withdrawn the DCL and will not require compliance without the opportunity for the public to provide comments.

    Earlier in the month, Representatives Randy Hultgren (R-IL), Luke Messer (R-IN), and David Scott (D-GA) reintroduced the Transparency in Student Lending Act (H.R. 1283)—bipartisan legislation requiring the disclosure of the annual percentage rate on federal loans issued by the Department of Education. In 2008 the Truth in Lending Act disclosure requirements were applied to private loans, but not to federal student loans—an omission that does a “gross disservice” to borrowers according to Hultgren. “The Department of Education is the largest consumer lender in the United States, and should provide the most transparent and helpful information to borrowers. Helping borrowers understand their debt obligations is an important first step to ensuring they are able to make their payments, and also helps prevent taxpayers from being on the hook for delinquent borrowers,” noted Hultgren.

    Lending Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Student Lending Department of Education TILA

    Share page with AddThis
  • 9th Circuit Panel Reverses and Remands Dismissal of Pro Se Plaintiff’s Breach of Contract Claim in Connection with Bank’s Trial Loan Modification Process

    Courts

    In an opinion filed on March 13, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed and remanded a district court’s dismissal of a homeowner-plaintiff’s breach of contract claim against a major bank for damages allegedly suffered when she unsuccessfully attempted to modify her home loan over a two-year period. Oskoui v. J.P. Morgan Chase Bank, N.A., [Dkt No. 47-1] Case No. 15-55457 (9th Cir. Mar. 13, 2017) (Trott, S.). The court also remanded with instructions to permit the pro-se plaintiff to amend her complaint to allege a right to rescind in connection with her previously-dismissed TILA claim in light of the Supreme Court’s January 2015 decision in Jesinoski v. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc. And, finally, the panel affirmed the district court’s ruling that the facts alleged demonstrated a claim under California’s Unfair Competition Law (“UCL”) because, among other reasons, the factual record supported a determination that the bank knew or should have known that the homeowner was plainly ineligible for a loan modification; yet, the bank encouraged her to apply for modifications (which she did), and collected payments pursuant to trial modification plans. 

    In reversing and remanding the district court’s ruling dismissing the breach of contract claim, the Ninth Circuit pointed to the styling on the first-page of the complaint—“BREACH OF CONTRACT”—along with allegations about the explicit offer language contained in the bank’s trial modification documents.  The Ninth Circuit relied on the Seventh Circuit’s opinion in Wigod v. Wells Fargo, which it identified as the “leading federal appellate decision on this issue of contract,” to “illuminate the viability” of plaintiff’s breach of contract claim in connection with trial plan documents.  673 F.3d 547 (7th Cir. 2012). The Ninth Circuit remanded the claim with instructions to permit the plaintiff to amend if necessary in order to move forward with her breach of contract claim.

    Courts Lending TILA UDAAP Appellate Mortgages CA UCL

    Share page with AddThis

Pages