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  • Alabama attorney general establishes cybercrime lab

    State Issues

    On February 14, the Alabama Attorney General’s Office announced the establishment of the Cybercrime Lab, which was created in partnership with the U.S. Secret Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Investigations, the Alabama Fusion Center, the Alabama Office of Prosecution Services, and U.S. Attorney Louis Franklin. In addition to supporting cyber-related investigations in areas such as network intrusions and data breaches conducted by law enforcement in Alabama at the federal, state, and local levels, the Cybercrime Lab will provide assistance to agencies seeking access to digital evidence. Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall commented that his office also has new resources for reporting suspected debit/credit card skimming devices.

    State Issues State Attorney General Data Breach Privacy/Cyber Risk & Data Security

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  • Maine amends Fair Debt Collection Practices Act to clarify licensing requirements

    State Issues

    On February 6, Maine Governor Paul LePage signed updates to a provision of the state’s Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (Maine FDCPA), which clarify licensing requirements for persons engaged in the business of collecting debts in the state. S.P. 613, “An Act to Improve the Regulation of Debt Collectors,” includes the following: (i) removes the licensing condition that requires a debt collector to be “face to face” when soliciting business from Maine creditors; and (ii) requires a debt collector to be licensed in the state before collecting a debt from a consumer in the state, regardless of the debt collector’s actual location. The law will take effect 90 days following the adjournment of the legislative session.

    State Issues State Legislation Debt Collection Licensing

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  • NYDFS issues policies and procedures reminder to virtual currency companies

    State Issues

    On February 7, the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) issued a guidance document reminding virtual currency entities (VC entities) licensed by the state or chartered as limited purpose trust companies that they are required to have policies and procedures in place to guard against fraud, and that they should be particularly vigilant concerning efforts at market manipulation. The guidance requires VC entities to implement written policies that will (i) identify and assess fraud-related areas of risk, including market manipulation; (ii) provide procedures and controls to protect against identified risks; (iii) allocate risk monitoring responsibilities; (iv) periodically evaluate and revise risk monitoring processes to “ensure continuing effectiveness” and “compliance with all applicable laws and regulations; and (v) “provide for the effective investigation of fraud and other wrongdoing.” NYDFS also requires VC entities to submit incident reports detailing any identified wrongdoing, follow-up reports outlining any material developments, measures taken or to be taken concerning the developments, and a statement outlining any changes to the VC entity’s operations to prevent repeat occurrences.

    State Issues NYDFS Fraud Cryptocurrency Virtual Currency Fintech

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  • Virginia attorney general announces $2.7 million settlement with internet lender

    State Issues

    On February 7, Virginia’s Attorney General, Mark R. Herring, announced a $2.7 million settlement with a Virginia affiliate of a New York-based internet lender to resolve alleged violations of the Virginia Consumer Protection Act (VCPA). According to the announcement, between January 2017 and July 2017, the online lender (i) offered installment loans with interest rates as high as 359 percent without qualifying for an exception to the state’s 12 percent interest cap; (ii) falsely claimed it was licensed by Virginia’s Bureau of Financial Institutions; and (iii) charged state residents an unlawful check-processing fee of $15 for payments made by check on closed-end installment loans. The attorney general’s office stated that the settlement requires the lender to disgorge more than $2 million in illegal interest payments received, provide over $300,000 in refunds to affected state consumers, 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.

    State Issues State Attorney General Consumer Finance Settlement Anti-Predatory Lending

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  • NYDFS adjusts minimum interest requirements of escrow accounts

    State Issues

    On January 29, the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) announced an order adjusting the minimum rate of interest that New York State-chartered banks and other New York State-chartered financial institutions (collectively, “covered institutions”) must pay on certain mortgage escrow accounts. Prior to the order, covered institutions were required to pay a minimum rate of two percent per annum on certain residential escrow accounts. To more closely align with requirements for federal banking institutions, the order adjusts the minimum rate of interest that covered institutions must pay to the lesser of two percent or the six-month yield on United States Treasury securities.

    State Issues State Legislation NYDFS Escrow Mortgages

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  • Maryland issues bipartisan consumer protection recommendations

    State Issues

    On January 26, the Maryland Financial Consumer Protection Commission (the “Commission”) and ranking officials from the Maryland legislature announced bipartisan “Interim Recommendations” of the Commission for State and local action in response to the federal government’s “efforts to change or weaken […] important federal consumer protections.” New legislation in response to the recommendations is expected to be released in the near future. Key recommendations include, among other things: (i) requiring credit reporting agencies to provide an alert of data breaches promptly and provide free credit freezes; (ii) adopting new financial consumer protection laws in areas where the federal government may be weakening oversight; (iii) addressing potential issues with Maryland’s current payday and lending statutes; (iv) adopting the Model State Consumer and Employee Justice Enforcement Act that addresses forced arbitration clauses; and (v) adopting new laws that address new risk, such as, virtual currencies and financial technology.

    State Issues State Legislation Consumer Finance Data Breach Payday Lending Arbitration Virtual Currency Fintech Credit Reporting Agency

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  • 10th Circuit reverses lower court decision in mortgage action

    State Issues

    On January 23, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit reversed a District Court’s decision dismissing a borrower’s claims against a lender and mortgage loan servicer (collectively, “defendants”) under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, which prohibits lower federal courts from reviewing state court civil judgments. Colorado maintains a unique procedure for non-judicial foreclosure. Specifically, under Rule 120 of the Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure (“Rule 120”) a trustee is required to obtain a trial court ruling that a “reasonable probability” of default exists before moving forward with a non-judicial foreclosure. According to the opinion, in 2014, the defendants initiated a non-judicial foreclosure proceeding against the borrower through the Rule 120 process. Prior to completing the sale, however, the borrower filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado seeking, among other things, an injunction against the sale, damages, and cancellation of the promissory note. Relying on the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, the District Court dismissed the borrower’s suit as an attempt to unwind the results of the Rule 120 proceedings. The 10th Circuit reversed this decision based on its finding that the borrower’s suit did not challenge the Rule 120 state court decision, but rather took issue with the defendant’s actions prior to the state court proceedings. In reaching this conclusion, the 10th Circuit noted that even if the borrower had filed suit after the Rule 120 judgment had been entered, unless the borrower was alleging the state court wrongfully entered the judgment, the suit would not be barred by Rooker-Feldman.

    State Issues Mortgages Foreclosure Tenth Circuit Appellate

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  • NYDFS promises to fill CFPB regulatory void

    State Issues

    On January 25, the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) Superintendent, Maria T. Vullo, issued a statement critical of the recent policy changes by the CFPB’s new leadership. As previously covered by InfoBytes, acting CFPB Director Mick Mulvaney announced, among other things, that the CFPB will no longer “push the envelope” in pursuit of the agency’s mission. Vullo stated that NYDFS remains “committed to its mission to safeguard the financial services industry and protect New York consumers,” and promised to fill the “regulatory voids” left by the new administration.

    In December, as previously covered by InfoBytes, seventeen state attorneys general sent a letter to President Trump expressing concern about Mulvaney serving as acting director, and emphasizing that if the CFPB does not do the job, the states will “redouble our efforts at the state level to root out such misconduct and hold those responsible to account.”

    State Issues NYDFS Enforcement Consumer Finance CFPB Succession CFPB

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  • Pennsylvania requires non-bank mortgage servicers to submit licensing applications through NMLS

    State Issues

    On January 23, the Pennsylvania Department of Banking and Securities announced it will begin accepting licensing applications from non-bank servicers through the Nationwide Multistate Licensing System (NMLS) as early as April 1 as part of the state’s move to increase oversight into non-bank mortgage servicing. The licensing requirement falls within SB 751 (Act No. 81), which amended Title 7 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes to regulate certain mortgage servicing activities, and was signed into law on December 22 by Governor Tom Wolf. (See previous InfoBytes coverage here.) The deadline for submitting licensing applications is June 30.

    State Issues Lending Mortgage Servicing Licensing NMLS

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  • New York Senate bill proposes replacing online lending task force with study

    State Issues

    On January 8, the New York State Senate Committee on Rules voted to amend legislation to authorize the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) to conduct a study about online lending. The original legislation, S6593A, signed into law by Governor Cuomo on December 29, 2017, created a seven-person task force responsible for analyzing online lending activity in the state. The proposed amendments to this legislation, S07294 and A8938, which would be effective immediately if passed by both houses of the New York legislature and signed into law, remove the requirement for a task force, and instead authorize NYDFS to direct the study and produce a public report with recommendations prior to July 1. According to the amendments, the study should analyze (i) lending practices of the online lending industry and primary differences between online lenders and traditional lenders; (ii) types of credit products available online; (iii) a review of available complaints, actions and investigations related to online lenders; and (iv) a survey of existing state and federal laws that apply to the online lending industry. 

    State Issues NYDFS Consumer Finance Lending State Legislation

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