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  • Student loan servicer must comply with CFPB CID pending appeal

    Courts

    On April 17, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania ordered a student loan servicer to comply with a CFPB Civil investigative Demand (CID), while the servicer awaits appeal. As previously covered by InfoBytes, in February the court enforced a CFPB CID issued against the student loan servicer in June 2017. In granting the Bureau’s petition to enforce the CID, the court found that the CID’s Notification of Purpose met the statutory notice requirements because nothing in the law bars the CFPB “from investigating the totality of a company’s business operations.” The court also found that the investigation was for a “legitimate purpose,” the information requested is relevant and not already known by the Bureau, and the request is not unreasonably broad or burdensome. On March 26, the servicer filed a motion to stay the court’s order pending appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit. In denying the servicer’s motion, the court held that the servicer would not be irreparably harmed if it responded to the CID should the 3rd Circuit reverse the court’s decision as the Appeals Court could order all documents to be returned and prevent the CFPB from acting upon information learned through the CID. Additionally, the servicer argued that the CFPB would not be injured if the court granted the stay because the agency has not yet brought an enforcement action. The court disagreed with this argument, holding that the CFPB cannot bring an enforcement action without reviewing the relevant documents and granting the stay would only “further stall the CFPB’s efforts to obtain documents and information that it requested nine months ago.”

    Courts CFPB Student Lending CIDs Appellate Third Circuit

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  • CFPB and OCC fine national bank $1 billion for mortgage and auto lending practices

    Federal Issues

    On April 20, the CFPB, in coordination with the OCC, announced a $1 billion settlement with a national bank for certain auto and mortgage lending practices the bank had previously discontinued and for which voluntary consumer remediation was initiated by the bank. According to the CFPB consent order, the Bureau alleged the bank inappropriately (i) charged fees for mortgage rate-lock extensions, and (ii) operated a force-placed insurance program in connection with auto loans. Specifically, the CFPB alleged that the bank sometimes charged rate lock extension fees to consumers when it should have absorbed the fees. With respect to auto loans, the Bureau alleged that, due to issues with the vendor employed to monitor for insurance and issue insurance if not maintained by the consumer, certain consumers paid for force-placed insurance premiums and interest that may not have been required resulting in potential consumer harm. The CFPB consent order acknowledges that the bank voluntarily discontinued the above practices and has voluntarily begun consumer remediation. Under the terms of both of the consent orders, the bank will remediate affected consumers and will implement necessary changes to its compliance risk-management program.

    Federal Issues CFPB OCC Settlement Auto Finance Mortgages Rate Lock Force-placed Insurance

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  • CFPB Succession: Mulvaney pleads for Congress to restructure the CFPB; oral arguments held in English litigation

    Federal Issues

    On April 11 and 12, acting Director of the CFPB, Mick Mulvaney, testified before the House Financial Services Committee and the Senate Banking Committee regarding the Bureau’s semi-annual report to Congress. (Previously covered by InfoBytes here). Mulvaney’s prepared testimony, which was submitted to both committees, covers the salient points of the semi-annual report but also includes the same request to Congress that he made in the report: change the law “in order to establish meaningful accountability for the Bureau.” This request, which includes four specific changes (such as, subjecting the Bureau to the Congressional appropriations process and creating an independent Inspector General for the Bureau), was the focus of many of Mulvaney’s responses to questions posed by members of each committee. Specifically, during the House Financial Services hearing, Mulvaney encouraged the members of the committee to include the CFPB restructure in negotiations with the Senate regarding the bipartisan regulatory reform bill, S.2155, which passed the Senate last month. (Previously covered by InfoBytes here).

    Mulvaney also fielded many questions regarding the Bureau’s announcement that it plans to reconsider the final rule addressing payday loans, vehicle title loans, and certain other extensions of credit (Rule); however, his responses gave little indication of what the Bureau’s specific plans for the Rule are. As previously covered by InfoBytes, resolutions have been introduced in the House and the Senate to overturn the rule under the Congressional Review Act. Additionally, on April 9, two payday loan trade groups filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas asking the court to set aside the Rule because, among other reasons, the CFPB is unconstitutional and the Bureau’s rulemaking failed to comply with the Administrative Procedure Act. The complaint alleges that the Rule is “outside the Bureau's constitutional and statutory authority, as well as unnecessary, arbitrary, capricious, overreaching, procedurally improper and substantially harmful to lenders and borrowers alike.” The complaint also argues that the rule is a product of an agency that violates the Constitution’s separation of powers due to the Bureau’s structure of a single director who may only be removed by the president “for cause.” A similar argument in CFPB v. PHH Corporation was recently rejected by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit (covered by a Buckley Sandler Special Alert).

    Additionally, on April 12, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit heard oral arguments in English v. Trump. In this suit, Leandra English, the current deputy director of the CFPB, challenges Mulvaney’s appointment as acting director. Unlike previous arguments, which focused on the president’s authority to appoint Mulvaney under the Federal Vacancies Reform Act (FVRA), the court spent considerable time discussing Mulvaney’s concurrent role as head of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and whether that dual role is inconsistent with the independent structure of the Bureau, as established by the Dodd-Frank Act.

    Federal Issues CFPB Succession Payday Lending Senate Banking Committee House Financial Services Committee Appellate D.C. Circuit CFPB

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  • District court rejects motions for summary judgement on FDCPA claims filed by CFPB, debt collection law firm

    Courts

    On April 9, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio rejected motions for partial summary judgment and summary judgment filed respectively by the CFPB and a law firm accused of making false representations regarding attorney involvement in debt collection calls in violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and Dodd-Frank. As previously discussed in InfoBytes, the CFPB alleged in its complaint that the law firm sent demand letters and made collection calls to consumers that falsely implied that the consumer’s account files had been meaningfully reviewed by an attorney, when, in most cases, no attorney had reviewed the account file. Among other things, the law firm countered that, because its communications truthfully identified it as a law firm and it was acting as a debt collector, these communications were not misleading to the “least sophisticated consumer”—a factor of measurement for analyzing FDCPA violations. The court ruled that “whether the communications at issue are misleading is a question of fact that must be determined by a jury.” The jury trial is set for May 1.

    Courts CFPB Debt Collection FDCPA Dodd-Frank

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  • Buckley Sandler Special Alert: New Jersey’s Office of Attorney General creates “state-level CFPB”

    State Issues

    New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said in a press release last week that he and Governor Phil Murphy would “fill the void left by the Trump Administration’s pullback of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau” by creating what the release referred to as a “state-level CFPB.”

    The effort includes the nomination of Paul R. Rodriquez as director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, which enforces laws to protect consumers’ rights, regulates the securities industry, and oversees numerous state-licensing boards. Rodriguez, who is currently Acting Counsel to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, will start in his new role on June 1.

    * * *

    Click here to read the full special alert.

    If you have any questions about the initiative or other related issues, please see our State Attorneys General practice, whose lawyers have been defending AG enforcement actions for more than two decades, or contact Douglas Gansler or any Buckley Sandler attorney with whom you have worked in the past.

    State Issues CFPB State Attorney General CFPB Succession Enforcement

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  • Pennsylvania district court denies payday lender’s transfer request to bankruptcy court

    Courts

    On April 3, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania denied a motion to move an action, filed by a group of online payday lenders (defendants), from Pennsylvania to Texas. The defendants—who filed for bankruptcy in Texas last year—sought to centralize lawsuits referred to by the court as ”rent-a-bank” and “rent-a-tribe” schemes. (See previous InfoBytes coverage on the allegations here.) The defendants argued that the presumption of trying cases related to a bankruptcy proceeding in the court where the proceeding is pending, which is commonly recognized under 28 U.S.C. Section 1412, should apply. The court, however, found that Section 1412’s presumption of transfer does not apply to police and regulatory actions. In support, the district court cited to a Montana federal judge’s decision this past January, which denied a transfer request in a similar suit brought by the CFPB against one of the defendants. In the summary of its findings, the court noted “[s]imply put, Congress has favored the interest of permitting states’ regulatory and police actions to independently proceed over the interest in centering the administration of the defendant’s related bankruptcy proceedings.”

    Courts Payday Lending State Attorney General Bankruptcy CFPB

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  • Mulvaney requests more oversight and accountability for the Bureau in semi-annual report to Congress

    Federal Issues

    On April 2, the CFPB issued its semi-annual report to Congress covering the Bureau’s work from April 1, 2017 to September 30, 2017. The report details, among other things, problems faced by consumers with regard to consumer financial products or services; significant rules and orders adopted by the Bureau; and various supervisory and enforcement actions prior to Mick Mulvaney’s appointment as acting director. Most notably, the report includes an opening letter from Mulvaney, which requests Congress make changes to the law to “establish meaningful accountability” for the Bureau which is “far too powerful.” Specifically, Mulvaney requests four changes (i) subject the Bureau to Congressional appropriations; (ii) require Congressional approval for major rules; (iii) make the director accountable to the President’s exercise of executive authority; and (iv) create an independent Inspector General for the agency. Mulvaney writes that the cycle of Congressional frustration with the CFPB will repeat “ad infinitum unless Congress acts to make [the Bureau] accountable to the American people.”

    Mulvaney is set to testify on April 11 before the full House Financial Services Committee regarding the Bureau’s semi-annual report. As he notes in his letter, he intends to discuss his recommendations regarding the Bureau’s oversight at the hearing.

    Federal Issues CFPB Succession Enforcement Congress CFPB

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  • CFPB appeals $10 million order in payday lender suit

    Courts

    On March 27, the CFPB filed a notice of appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in response to a district court’s order that an online loan servicer and its affiliates pay a $10 million penalty for offering high-interest loans in states with usury laws barring the transactions—a penalty which fell far short of the $50 million the CFPB had requested. As previously covered in InfoBytes, the district court found that a lower statutory penalty was more appropriate than the CFPB’s requested amount because the CFPB failed to show the company “knowingly violated the CFPA.” It further rejected the Bureau’s request for restitution and denied a request for a permanent injunction. The notice of appeal seeks review of all parts of the final judgment as well as the parts of the findings of facts and conclusions of law that are adverse to its position.

    Courts CFPB Appellate Ninth Circuit Payday Lending

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  • CFPB updates mortgage servicing Small Entity Compliance Guide, releases mortgage servicing coverage chart

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On March 29, the CFPB released version 3.1 of its mortgage servicing Small Entity Compliance Guide. The updated guide supports the implementation of the 2016 Mortgage Servicing Final Rule, including the amendment to the Rule released earlier this month. The Rule replaces the previous single-billing-cycle exemption with a single-statement exemption when servicers transition to providing modified or unmodified periodic statements and coupon books to consumers entering or exiting bankruptcy. See previous InfoBytes coverage here. The Bureau also released a mortgage servicing coverage chart, which summarizes the mortgage servicing rules that will be in effect as of April 19.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance CFPB Mortgage Servicing Bankruptcy Consumer Finance Regulation X Regulation Z

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  • CFPB and FTC issue annual report on 2017 debt collection activities

    Consumer Finance

    On March 20, the CFPB and the FTC issued an annual report to Congress on the agencies’ collective actions to combat illegal debt collection practices based on their shared enforcement responsibilities under the FDCPA. The report was released pursuant to a 2012 Memorandum of Understanding between the CFPB and the FTC that provides for coordination in enforcement, supervision, and consumer education. According to the report, the agencies’ actions against debt collectors include:

    • CFPB. In addition to handling approximately 84,500 debt collection complaints in 2017, the CFPB reports it resolved one FDCPA enforcement case (previously covered by InfoBytes here) and filed two other complaints alleging FDCPA violations (previously covered by InfoBytes here and here). The Bureau also notes it uncovered a number of actions that the agency’s examiners deemed to be violations of the FDCPA, such as impermissible communications with third parties and implying authorized users are responsible for debt on the account. As for the Bureau’s pending FDCPA rulemaking, the report notes that the CFPB is still considering feedback from stakeholders regarding the July 2016 outline of proposals under consideration.
    • FTC. The agency reports it obtained more than $64 million in judgments based on alleged violations of the FDCPA or the FTC Act and emphasized the FTC’s specific focus on phantom debt actions. In addition to working to educate consumers about their rights with regard to debt collection, the FTC emphasized multiple permanent injunctions, which prevent companies and individuals from working in the debt collection field again. As for research, the agency highlighted its July 2017 Military Consumer Financial Workshop, which covered debt collection as an issue faced by the military community (previously covered by InfoBytes here).

    Consumer Finance CFPB FTC Debt Collection FDCPA

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