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  • ABA, State Banking Associations Request HMDA Implementation Delay

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    Following up on comments submitted to the CFPB on its proposal to amend the 2015 HMDA rule (see previous InfoBytes coverage here), the American Bankers Association (ABA)—along with state banking associations representing all 50 states and Puerto Rico—sent a letter on July 12 to the Bureau requesting that the new “complex” and “substantive” requirements scheduled to take effect January 1, 2018 be delayed to allow banks time to comply. The associations claim the Bureau (i) failed to sufficiently conduct industry research to identify and address questions and proposed solutions concerning the proposed changes, and (ii) inadequately addressed issues related to the protection of borrower data. The ABA also stresses that the software systems banks need to incorporate into their platforms to ensure compliant data collection will not be available in time “because the industry and systems vendors are still awaiting rule changes that will necessitate system adaptations.” The Bureau has been asked to announce its intention for a delay within the next month.

    Lending HMDA ABA CFPB Bank Compliance Mortgages Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

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  • FTC to Host Military Consumer Financial Workshop

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    On July 19, the FTC will host a free public workshop in San Antonio, entitled 2017 Military Consumer Financial Workshop: Protecting Those Who Protect Our Nation, to educate military consumers on financial issues and scams that they may face.

    The workshop with consist of five panel discussions led by FTC personnel as well as military consumer advocates, attorneys, legal services clinics, industry representatives, and government agencies. The panels will include the following topics:

    • auto purchase, financing, and leasing;
    • lending including student loans and installment loans;
    • debt collection;
    • legal rights and remedies; and
    • financial literacy and capability.

    Additionally, the workshop will include presentations on online promotions and protecting sensitive information, as well as encouraging financial readiness along with financial resources for military consumers.

    The FTC will hold the workshop at Trinity University in the Chapman Auditorium beginning at 8:30 am and preregistration is not required.

    Lending FTC Auto Finance Student Lending Debt Collection Installment Loans Consumer Finance Consumer Education Financial Literacy

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  • Industry Groups Submit Comments on FHFA’s Proposed Evaluation Guidance for “Duty to Serve” Provisions

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    As previously discussed in InfoBytes, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) published a final rule last December implementing certain “Duty to Serve” provisions of the Federal Housing Enterprises Financial Safety and Soundness Act of 1992, as amended by the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008. Among other things, the rule requires that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (Enterprises) adopt formal plans to improve the availability of mortgage financing in a “safe and sound manner” for residential properties that serve “very low-, low-, and moderate-income families” in three specified underserved markets: manufactured housing, affordable housing preservation, and rural markets. The FHFA also published a Proposed Evaluation Guidance to outline the following: (i) FHFA's expectations regarding the development of such Underserved Markets Plans, and (ii) the process by which FHFA will evaluate annually Fannie’s and Freddie’s achievements under their Plans. The deadline to submit comments was June 7.

    Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) Letter. In its June 7 comment letter, the MBA stated that it commends efforts undertaken by the FHFA to develop a framework of requirements for the Enterprises to follow when preparing their Underserved Market Plans, as well as an evaluation system to rate implementation progress. Particularly, the MBA noted that, based on its data, the U.S. “will see 15.9 million additional households formed over the decade ending in 2024 . . . [which] will increase the need for all types of housing, including already limited affordable housing for very low-, low-, and moderate-income borrowers.” Furthermore, “manufactured home financing, affordable housing preservation, and additional rural housing opportunities can play a key role in providing both first-time home-buying opportunities and affordable rental options for consumers in these underserved markets.” With respect to the Proposed Evaluation Guidance, the MBA stressed the importance of flexibility so adjustments can be made for “unanticipated obstacles or opportunities caused by significant changes in market conditions that arise.”

    Center for Responsible Lending (CRL) Letter. Also on June 7, CRL issued a comment letter to the Proposed Guidance in which it offered recommendations concerning “public input and transparency, assessing the contents of the plants to ensure meaningful objectives, and the evaluation and scoring process.” Specifically, CRL noted that while the Enterprises have taken measures such as reinstating lower down payment programs and creating pilot programs to address the underserved markets, it believes a “robust duty to serve process will further access credit initiatives by promoting and incentivizing responsible and sustainable lending to lower wealth households.” However, the CRL also raised several issues over the Proposed Evaluation Guidance, specifically in terms of the proposed scoring system. Under current FHFA guidance, Enterprises’ plans are scored on three factors: progress, impact, and effort/implementation. Conversely, under the proposed scoring system, failure only occurs due to a lack of progress because the impact and effort criteria are assessed only after the Enterprise receives a pass/fail determination. In reaction, CRL raised the following concerns: (i) “What guards against Enterprises putting only low impact objectives in the plan?” (ii) “What incentives do Enterprises have to score highly (above minimally passing)?” and (iii) “What guards against only proposing easily achievable objectives?” In addition to scoring methodology changes, CRL recommended that the FHFA implement a more rigorous loan product and loan purchase evaluation process and increase transparency.

    Lending Mortgages FHFA Fannie Mae Freddie Mac Stress Test Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Affordable Housing

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  • Fed Assesses $1.8 Million Civil Money Penalty Against Florida-Based Holding Company, Terminates Enforcement Action

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    On June 8, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve (Board) announced the termination of an enforcement action brought against a Florida-based holding company in April 2011 relating to deficiencies in its residential mortgage loan servicing, loss mitigation, and foreclosure processing activities found in an Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS) review of the company. Additionally, the OTS review found inadequate procedures to assess potential risks associated with such activities. Under the terms of the 2011 enforcement action, the holding company was required to enhance its oversight of its thrift subsidiary and improve its internal risk management, audit, and compliance programs to address deficiencies in these areas. The decision to terminate the action was based on a review conducted by the Board’s supervisory team, which determined the holding company made “sustainable improvement” in its mortgage servicing oversight practices. Furthermore, the mortgage servicer has agreed to pay a $1.8 million civil money penalty.

    Lending Federal Reserve Mortgages Enforcement Mortgage Servicing

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  • Vehicle Financing Company Owners Plead Guilty to $11 Million Fraud

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    On May 25, the Massachusetts U.S. Attorney’s Office announced that two vehicle financing company owners (Defendants) entered guilty pleas admitting to counts of mail and wire fraud. The Defendants’ company raised capital by securing investments from individuals to fund its operations. In 2015, the DOJ filed a criminal complaint alleging the Defendants represented to investors that retirement account funds could be rolled over into investments held by the company without triggering the payment of income taxes on the transferred monies. Investors allegedly transferred retirement funds based on these representations, and the Company ultimately lost more than $11 million of the investors’ money. However, the Defendants allegedly never obtained approval from Treasury for the company to act as an authorized custodian or trustee of retirement funds as required in order for the rules permitting tax-free transfers to apply, and therefore solicited the investment funds based on “deceptive acts, false and fraudulent statements and misrepresentation of material facts.” The company ultimately filed for bankruptcy. The plea agreements stipulate maximum penalties of “20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater, a mandatory special assessment of $100, restitution, and forfeiture to the extent charged in the Indictment” and can be accessed here and here. Sentencing is set for September 20, 2017.

    Lending Auto Finance Fraud UDAAP State Issues

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  • Department of Education Releases Phase II Amending the Federal Student Loan Servicing Solicitation

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    On May 19, the U.S. Department of Education (Department) announced the formal amendment of Phase II of the federal student loan servicing solicitation. According to a fact sheet issued by the Department, the amendment outlines plans to select a single student loan servicer that all borrowers will interact with on a unified platform. This is a departure from the current system in which nine servicing companies handle borrowers’ payments of their federal student loans. The amendment further clarifies and lists the Department's expectations of the eventual servicer. U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos commented on the announcement, “[w]ith changes in the new amendment, we have simplified the process to ensure meaningful borrower protections while saving taxpayers more than $130 million over the next five years. Savings are expected to increase significantly over the life of the contract. Borrowers can expect to see a more user-friendly loan servicing interface, shorter email and call response times and an improved payment application method that will maximize the benefit of each payment the borrower makes. Our amendment makes no changes to repayment plan requirements.”

    As previously covered in InfoBytes, DeVos also rolled back Obama administration policies developed to guide the way in which the federal government contracts with outside servicers.

    Lending Student Lending Consumer Finance Department of Education

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  • National Fair Housing Alliance Settles Lending Discrimination Claims Brought Against National Bank

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    On May 19, the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) announced it had reached an agreement with a major national bank (Bank) related to a housing discrimination complaint the NFHA filed with HUD in 2014. The complainant alleges that NFHA conducted a series of tests over a period of several months revealing a “pattern of discriminatory conduct.” Latino prospective qualified borrowers were often quoted higher monthly payment and closing costs and were denied opportunities to speak with loan officers. The complainants also cited data showing that the number of purchase loan applications received from Latinos had declined over the past few years. While the Bank denied all allegations in the complaint, it agreed to contribute more than $400,000 towards fair housing efforts in South Carolina and nationwide. Separately, the original complaint led to HUD filing charges against the Bank last December on behalf of the NFHA for lending discrimination—citing, in particular, that prospective Latino borrowers were treated less favorably than non-Latinos, in violation of the Fair Housing Act.

    Lending HUD Enforcement Fair Lending Mortgage Lenders

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  • City of Philadelphia Sues National Bank for Discriminatory Lending Practices

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    On May 15, the City of Philadelphia filed a lawsuit against a national bank (Bank) alleging that it violated the Fair Housing Act by engaging in discriminatory lending practices that targeted minority borrowers. (See City of Phila. v. Wells Fargo & Co., Case No. 2:17-cv-02203-LDD, 2017 WL 2060317 (E.D. Pa.).) The complaint alleges that beginning in 2004 and continuing through the present, the Bank engaged in “a continuous and unbroken discriminatory pattern and practice of issuing higher cost or more onerous mortgage loans to minority borrowers” while offering better terms to similarly situated non-minority borrowers. The City’s complaint alleges discrimination under both disparate treatment and disparate impact theories. The City claims that the Bank has a long history of both redlining (the practice of refusing to make loans in minority neighborhoods) and reverse redlining (the practice of targeting higher cost loans or loans with less favorable terms to minority neighborhoods). The complaint further describes a pattern of knowing and intentional discrimination by the Bank, relying on statistical analyses finding, among others, that: (i) a loan for a home in a predominantly minority neighborhood was 4.7 times more likely to go into foreclosure than a loan on a home in a mainly white neighborhood; (ii) African American and Latino borrowers were more than twice as likely to receive a high-cost loan as white borrowers; and (iii) when credit scores were factored in for borrowers with FICO scores of more than 660, African American borrowers were more than 2.5 times more likely than white borrowers to receive a high cost loan, and Latino borrowers more than twice as likely. As a result of the foreclosures and vacant homes, the City says it suffered a suppression of property tax revenue and increased cost of providing services such as police, fire fighting, and other municipal services.

    City of Miami Suit. As previously covered in InfoBytes, the Supreme Court recently ruled that municipal plaintiffs may be “aggrieved persons” authorized to bring suit under the Fair Housing Act (FHA) against lenders for injuries allegedly flowing from discriminatory lending practices, although the five-justice majority held that such injuries must be proximately caused by the FHA violations. The Supreme Court returned the City’s lawsuit to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit because, while the Court found that the City’s injuries appeared to be a foreseeable result of the lender’s practices, this was not enough to establish proximate cause. Therefore, it remains to be seen whether the City can show proximate cause.

    Lending Courts FHA Mortgage Lenders Consumer Finance

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  • CFPB Issues Report Finding That 90 Percent of Student Borrowers Are Not Enrolled in Income Driven Repayment Plans

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    On May 16, the CFPB published analysis of a student loan industry data sample, which indicates that nine out of ten of the highest-risk borrowers are not enrolled in federal affordable repayment plans. The report, entitled Update from the CFPB Student Loan Ombudsman, is based on data the Bureau received in response to a voluntary request (Appendix C) for information it sent to several student loan servicers seeking information regarding practices used on borrowers transitioning from default to income-driven repayment plans (IDR). As previously reported in InfoBytes, the 2016 report highlighted the fact that “the majority of borrowers who cure a default and seek to enroll in IDR do so by first rehabilitating their defaulted debt. However, these borrowers describe a range of communication, paperwork processing, and customer service breakdowns at every stage of the default-to-IDR transition.” The Bureau found that data provided in response to its request support the following preliminary observations:

    • More than 90 percent of borrowers who rehabilitated one or more defaulted loans were not enrolled and making IDR payments within the first nine months after “curing” a default.
    • Borrowers were five times more likely to default for a second time if they did not enroll in an IDR.
    • As previously projected in 2016,  nearly 30 percent of borrowers who exited default through rehabilitation defaulted for a second time within 24 months and more than 40 percent of borrowers re-defaulted within three years.
    • More than 75 percent of borrowers who default for a second time did not successfully pay a single bill to their student loan servicers. The CFPB estimates that “as many as four out of every five borrowers who rehabilitate a student loan could be eligible for a zero dollar ‘payment’ under an IDR plan, suggesting many of these defaults were preventable, even for the most economically vulnerable consumers.”
    • Borrowers who used the consolidation option, which requires borrowers to enroll in an IDR plan (except in rare circumstances) to resolve their student loan defaults, are more likely to immediately begin to repay their debts successfully.

    According to the CFPB, the data reinforce the Bureau’s concern that “hundreds of thousands of borrowers who recently cured their default through rehabilitation are unable to successfully access a stable and affordable repayment plan and soon end up back in default.” Further, the Bureau found support for its position that “borrowers who cure default through consolidation appear to fare much better, particularly in the first months after exiting default.”

    Lending CFPB Student Lending

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  • DOJ Enters $89 Million Settlement with Texas-Based Bank in False Claims Act Matter

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    On May 16, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that a Texas-based bank (Bank) agreed to settle the DOJ’s allegations that it violated the False Claims Act and FIRREA by wrongfully seeking payments from a federally insured reverse mortgage program. To protect lenders, HUD provides mortgage insurance through a program administered by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) on reverse mortgage loans, in which seniors borrow money against the equity they have in their homes. The DOJ alleged that the Bank sought to obtain insurance payments for interest from the FHA despite failing to properly disclose on the filed insurance claim forms that the mortgagee was not eligible for such interest payments because it had failed to meet various deadlines relating to appraisal of the property, submission of claims to HUD, and pursuit of foreclosure proceedings. As a result, from approximately 2011 to 2016, the mortgagees on the relevant reverse mortgage loans serviced by Bank “allegedly obtained additional interest that they were not entitled to receive.” The Bank agreed to pay more than $89 million to resolve the allegations, of which $1.6 million will be paid to the individual who filed the lawsuit under the whistleblower provisions of FIRREA.

    Lending Reverse Mortgages Enforcement False Claims Act / FIRREA Whistleblower

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