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.

  • Fed terminates foreclosure enforcement actions, fines five banks CMPs

    Lending

    On January 10, the Federal Reserve Board (Fed) announced the termination of ten enforcement actions for legacy mortgage loan servicing and foreclosure processing activities, along with the issuance of more than $35 million in combined civil money penalties (CMPs) against five of the ten banks. Combined with penalties previously assessed against other supervised firms (see previous InfoBytes coverage here), the Fed’s mortgage servicing enforcement actions have totaled approximately $1.1 billion in penalties. The CMPs assessed against the five banks range from $3.5 million to $14 million. 

    According to the Fed, the termination of the ten enforcement actions is a result of “evidence of sustainable improvements in the firms’ oversight and mortgage servicing practices.” Under the terms of the previously issued consent orders, in addition to the CMPs, the banks were required to (i) improve residential mortgage loan servicing oversight, and (ii) correct deficiencies in residential mortgage loan servicing and foreclosure processing for banks with Fed supervised-mortgage servicing subsidiaries.

    The Fed also announced the termination of two related joint enforcement actions (see here and here) with the OCC, FDIC and FHFA (a party to only one of the actions) against key mortgage servicing service providers. According to the announcement, the terminations were a result of proof of “sustainable improvements” in the companies’ foreclosure-related practices.

    Lending Mortgages Mortgage Servicing Foreclosure Enforcement Federal Reserve

    Share page with AddThis
  • U.S. government, national bank parties enter $5 million False Claims Act settlement

    Courts

    On January 5, the U.S. Government reached a $5 million settlement with a national bank and its affiliates (together, the bank parties) to resolve a lawsuit concerning allegations that the bank parties violated the False Claims Act (FCA) by engaging in improper foreclosure-related practices. The settlement is not an admission of liability by the bank parties. Specifically, as previously covered in InfoBytes, the lawsuit primarily alleged that the bank parties knowingly used rubber-stamped surrogate signed endorsements and false mortgage assignments to support false claims for mortgage insurance from the Federal Housing Administration. The lawsuit also asserted a reverse FCA claim alleging that the bank parties made false statements when entering into the 2012 National Mortgage Settlement. The U.S. Government, the bank parties, and the relator who initially brought the suit stipulated to the dismissal with prejudice concerning 39 “Implied Certification and False Statement Claims,” along with all claims brought or that could have been brought by the relator, but without prejudice as to any other claims that could be brought by the U.S. Government. Under the terms of the settlement agreement, the bank parties are required to pay $3.4 million to the U.S. Government—$891,000 of which will be paid to the relator who originally brought the suit. In addition, the bank parties will pay the relator an additional $1.6 million in attorneys’ fees and litigation costs and expenses.

    Courts Foreclosure Mortgage Servicing Mortgages Settlement False Claims Act / FIRREA FHA

    Share page with AddThis
  • 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

    Share page with AddThis
  • District Court Allows Government to Intervene in False Claims Act Litigation

    Courts

    On January 3, the District Court for the Southern District of Florida granted the U.S. Government’s motion to intervene in a False Claims Act (FCA) lawsuit against a national bank. The lawsuit, filed by a foreclosure attorney and relator, alleges that the national bank submitted false claims in violation of the FCA in two ways. First, the lawsuit alleges that the national bank knowingly used rubber-stamped surrogate signed endorsements and false mortgage assignments to support false claims for mortgage insurance from FHA. Second, the lawsuit asserts a reverse FCA claim alleging that the national bank made false statements when entering into the 2012 National Mortgage Settlement. On December 21, the U.S. Government requested to intervene to assist in “effectuating and formalizing” a proposed settlement between the relator and the national bank that would resolve the matter.

    Courts False Claims Act / FIRREA Mortgage Servicing Mortgages Foreclosure National Mortgage Servicing Settlement

    Share page with AddThis
  • Buckley Sandler Insights: OMB releases updated and possibly outdated CFPB rulemaking agenda

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    OMB has released the CFPB’s Fall 2017 rulemaking agenda. Although this is the first update to the agenda since Richard Cordray left the agency in November 2017, delays in the publication of rulemaking agendas are common so the updated agenda may not reflect the views of new CFPB leadership. The updated agenda does not appear on the Bureau’s website. Further:

    • HMDA & ECOA Amendments: The updated agenda states that the Bureau planned to determine by December 2018 whether to make permanent adjustments to the threshold for reporting open-end lines of credit. However, as discussed in greater detail here, the CFPB stated on December 21 that it intended to engage in a broader rulemaking to (i) re-examine the criteria determining whether institutions are required to report data; (ii) adjust the requirements related to reporting certain types of transactions; and (iii) re-evaluate the required reporting of additional information beyond the data points required by the Dodd-Frank Act.
    • Prepaid Cards: The updated agenda states that the CFPB expected to finalize amendments to its rule on prepaid cards in November 2017, but no final amendments have been issued. Instead, on December 21, the CFPB announced its intent to adopt final amendments “soon after the new year” and stated that it expects to extend the April 1, 2018 effective date to allow more time for implementation.
    • Debt Collection: The updated agenda states that the CFPB expects to issue a proposed rule in February 2018 “concerning FDCPA collectors’ communications practices and consumer disclosures.” However, on December 14, OMB announced that the CFPB had withdrawn its planned survey regarding debt collection disclosures because “Bureau leadership would like to reconsider the information collection in connection with its review of the ongoing related rulemaking.”

    See previous InfoBytes coverage on the HMDA, Prepaid, and Debt Collection rulemaking updates.

    Other noteworthy aspects of the updated agenda include:

    • Regulation Reviews: The updated agenda reiterates the Bureau’s intent to review the regulations inherited from other agencies and “clarify ambiguities, address developments in the marketplace, and modernize or streamline regulatory provisions.” The updated agenda lists “pre-rule activities” as continuing through February 2018, rather than September 2017 under the prior agenda.
    • “Larger Participants” in Installment Lending: Consistent with the prior agenda, the CFPB states that it is preparing a proposed rule to define the “larger participants” in the personal loan market (including consumer installment loans and vehicle title loans) that will be subject to Bureau examinations. The updated agenda also states that the Bureau is still considering “whether rules to require registration of these or other non-depository lenders would facilitate supervision, as has been suggested to the Bureau by both consumer advocates and industry groups.” However, while the prior agenda indicated that a proposal was expected in September 2017, the new agenda lists May 2018.
    • Overdrafts: The updated agenda states only that the CFPB is “continuing to engage in additional research and consumer testing initiatives relating to the opt-in process” for overdraft protection and that “pre-rule activities” will continue through this month.  Under the prior agenda, pre-rule activities were scheduled to continue through June 2017.
    • Small Business Lending: The agenda indicates that the long-delayed implementation of the small business data reporting provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act will be delayed even longer. The last agenda listed “pre-rule activities” as continuing through June 2017, stating that the CFPB “is focusing on outreach and research to develop its understanding of the players, products, and practices in the small business lending market and of the potential ways to implement section 1071.” The new agenda states that these activities will continue until May 2018, after which the Bureau “expects to begin developing proposed regulations concerning the data to be collected, potential ways to minimize burdens on lenders, and appropriate procedures and privacy protections needed for information-gathering and public disclosure.”
    • TRID/Know Before You Owe Amendments: The updated agenda lists April 2018 as the expected release date for finalization of the July 2017 proposed rule addressing the “black hole” issue, which is discussed in a Buckley Sandler Special Alert. The prior agenda listed March 2018.
    • Mortgage Servicing Amendments: In October 2017, the CFPB issued proposed amendments to the mortgage periodic statement requirements to further address circumstances in which servicers transition between modified and unmodified statements in connection with a consumer’s bankruptcy case. The updated agenda does not provide an expected release date for final amendments.
    • Credit Card Agreement Submission: The agenda continues to state that the Bureau is considering rules to modernize its database of credit card agreements to reduce the submission burden on issuers and to make the database more useful for consumers and the general public. The agenda lists “pre-rule activities” as continuing through February 2018. Under the prior agenda, pre-rule activities were scheduled to continue through October 2017.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance CFPB HMDA ECOA Prepaid Cards Debt Collection Installment Loans Overdraft Small Business Lending TRID Mortgage Servicing Credit Cards

    Share page with AddThis
  • 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

    Share page with AddThis
  • Fifth Circuit Claims Loan Modification Communications Are Not Debt Collection Activities Under TDCA

    Courts

    On December 11, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled that a mortgage servicer’s communications about a potential loan modification do not constitute “debt collection activity” under the Texas Debt Collection Act (TDCA). The servicer had initially told borrowers that they could apply for a loan modification but later informed them that they were not eligible. The borrowers unsuccessfully appealed the determination with the servicer, yet prior to a final determination on the appeal, the servicer sent a statement reflecting a new monthly payment in the amount that the borrowers had been requesting. The borrowers made one payment in that amount, which the servicer accepted, but weeks later the servicer sent a letter stating that the mortgage was still in default. In affirming the district court’s judgment in favor of the mortgage servicer, the three-judge panel determined that while “modification discussions may constitute debt collection activities under the TDCA when those discussions are used as a ruse to collect debt,” the borrowers failed to make such a showing, and instead the servicer’s misrepresentations were “merely poor customer service.”

    Courts Debt Collection Appellate Mortgage Servicing Fifth Circuit

    Share page with AddThis
  • Freddie Mac Issues Guidance on Reporting Imminent Default Data; Fannie Mae Updates Servicing Guide

    Lending

    On December 13, Freddie Mac issued Guide Bulletin 2017-27, providing updates and reminders to servicers regarding the imminent default evaluation requirements. The bulletin includes specifics on how servicers should process and report imminent default data using the “Workout Prospector” web-based application. According to the bulletin, servicers are must implement the new requirements by July 1, 2018. The bulletin also incorporates the additional non-discrimination guide language announced for sellers in Guide Bulletin 2017-26 (previously covered by InfoBytes here).

    On December 13, Fannie Mae announced that it has updated its Servicing Guide. One such update includes the removal of requirements related to individual mortgage loan file records retention. Instead, the information will be available solely in Fannie Mae’s Selling Guide, which it expects to be updated on December 19. Another notable update is the Servicing Guide’s extension of the $30 maximum expense reimbursement “for each insured loss repair inspection required on a current or delinquent mortgage loan” to all mortgages, and not just those affected by disasters.

    Lending Freddie Mac Fannie Mae Mortgage Servicing

    Share page with AddThis
  • California Department of Business Reaches $1.1 Million Settlement With South Carolina-Based Mortgage Lender and Servicer

    Lending

    The California Department of Business Oversight (DBO) announced on December 11 that it had reached a $1.1 million settlement with a South Carolina-based mortgage lender and servicer to resolve allegations that the company (1) violated California’s statutory restriction on per diem interest and (2) serviced loans without a California license. This settlement marks the second time in five years that examiners discovered alleged per diem overcharges in the company’s loans. Under California law, lenders are prohibited from charging interest on mortgage loans prior to the last business day that immediately precedes the day the loan proceeds are disbursed. In addition, it is a violation of state law to service residential mortgage loans without obtaining proper licensure.

    According to the terms of the settlement—which resolves violations identified during a 2016 supervisory examination—the company must: (i) refrain from loan servicing activities until licensed by the state; (ii) pay $1 million in penalties to DBO for past violations; (iii) pay $125 for each additional violation identified by an independent audit of its loan originations; and (iv) issue per diem interest refunds totaling more than $141,000 to at least 1,347 borrowers. The company has also agreed to revise its policies and procedures to prevent future violations of California law.

    Lending Settlement Mortgages DBO Mortgage Servicing Licensing

    Share page with AddThis
  • Fannie and Freddie Introduce Extended Modifications for Disaster Relief

    Federal Issues

    On November 2, at the direction of the Federal Housing and Finance Authority (FHFA), Fannie Mae introduced in Lender Letter LL-2017-09 (Letter) a temporary forbearance mortgage loan modification (Extend Mod) for servicers with mortgage loans affected by the recent disasters. The Letter covers the requirements for an Extend Mod, including outlining loan eligibility criteria. Among other requirements, the loan must (i) be located in a FEMA-Declared Disaster Area; (ii) be less than 31 days delinquent when the disaster occurred and complete the forbearance plan while between 31 days delinquent and 360 days delinquent; (iii) not be delinquent after being previously modified with an Extend Mod from the same disaster; (iv) not be insured or guaranteed by a federal government agency; and (v) not be subject to a recourse or indemnification arrangement, another workout option, or a current repayment plan that is performing. The Letter also provides information on disbursing hazard loss draft proceeds, reimbursement for property inspections, and payment records for borrower-initiated termination of mortgage insurance.

    Under the same FHFA direction and in coordination with Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac issued Guide Bulletin 2017-25 announcing the servicing requirements for the Freddie Mac Extend Modification for Disaster Relief. Both Fannie and Freddie note the deadline for implementing the Extend Mod is February 1, 2018.

    Find more InfoBytes disaster relief coverage here.

    Federal Issues Disaster Relief Mortgages Mortgage Modification Mortgage Servicing FHFA Fannie Mae Freddie Mac

    Share page with AddThis

Pages