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  • Supreme Court Rejects Tribal Lenders’ Petition to Avoid CFPB CID

    Courts

    On December 11, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected without comment a petition from online tribal lending entities to appeal a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision that ordered the entities to comply with a CFPB investigation related to small-dollar loan products. As previously covered by InfoBytes, the entities argued that due to tribal sovereignty, the CFPB does not have jurisdiction over the small-dollar lending services. The CFPB urged the Supreme Court to deny the petition, arguing that the Court’s review is unnecessary because “[t]he question at this juncture is solely whether the Bureau may obtain information from petitioners pursuant to a CID,” not “whether petitioners are subject to the Bureau’s regulatory authority.” 

    Courts Consumer Finance CFPB U.S. Supreme Court Payday Lending

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  • CFPB Ombudsman’s Office Publishes Fiscal Year 2017 Annual Report

    Consumer Finance

    The CFPB’s Ombudsman’s Office published its annual report to the Director for fiscal year 2017, entitled Advocating for Fair Process in Consumer Financial Protection. The December 6 report details Ombudsman initiatives undertaken in 2017 and highlights the Bureau’s selection as one of four case studies in a December 2016 study by the Administrative Conference of the United States (ACUS) on the use of ombudsmen in federal agencies. Specifically, the Bureau’s report focuses on systemic reviews concerning the following: (i) the accessibility of CFPB print materials for different groups of people; (ii) the telephone entry point for non-consumers; (iii) the documenting and standardizing of ex parte communications regarding proposed rules; and (iv) the implementing of improvements to the way consumers select categories when identifying issues with companies in the consumer complaint database.

    The Ombudsman’s report also outlines strategic goals for the next two years, including, among other things, (i) addressing CFPB process issues facing consumers, financial entities, and trade groups; (ii) optimizing resources for effective assistance; and (iii) expanding educational efforts and engagement with stakeholders, in addition to implementing best practices to convey feedback. 

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  • CFPB Updates Guide to TRID Forms

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On December 6, the CFPB published an updated version of the TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure Guide to the Loan Estimate and Closing Disclosure Forms. The updated guide reflects the amendments issued by the CFPB on July 7 of this year (previously covered by a Buckley Sandler Special Alert). These include changes resolving a number of significant ambiguities that generated concerns about the liability of lenders and purchasers of mortgage loans.

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  • English Litigation Continues as Mulvaney Delays CFPB Enforcement Cases and Lawmakers Begin New Payday CRA Action

    Federal Issues

    On December 6, Deputy Director of the CFPB, Leandra English, filed an amended complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief and a motion for preliminary injunction with a supporting memorandum. In her amended complaint, English adds, among other things, a constitutional claim alleging that President Trump’s appointment of Mulvaney violates Article II, section 2 of the U.S. Constitution, which empowers the President to appoint “Officers of the United States,” subject to “the Advice and Consent of the Senate.” According to English, since Mulvaney was appointed without Senate approval and the Federal Vacancies Reform Act (FVRA) allegedly does not provide the President with a separate authority, President Trump does not have the constitutional authority to appoint Mulvaney in the manner he chose.

    The amended complaint also alleges that the appointment of Mulvaney under the FVRA is illegal because that act cannot be used to make an appointment to an “independent multi-member board or commission without Senate approval,” and the CFPB Director is, by law, a member of the FDIC’s board. This argument mirrors the argument made in a new complaint filed on December 5 by a New York-based credit union against President Trump and Acting CFPB Director Mick Mulvaney in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York to contest the legality of Mulvaney’s appointment. The defendants have yet to respond to the credit union’s complaint.

    With respect to English’s litigation, the defendants are set to respond to the motion for preliminary injunction, which builds off the arguments in the amended complaint, by December 18, and a hearing on the motion is set for December 22.

    Mulvaney has continued his work as Acting Director at the CFPB. On December 4, according to sources, he met with reporters to announce his decision to delay at least two active litigation cases as part of his plan to reevaluate the Bureau’s enforcement and litigation practices. The first case concerns a district court dispute between the Bureau and an immigration bond company over whether the CFPB has the authority to enforce a civil investigative demand for personal information about the company’s customers. The second case involves Mulvaney’s decision to withdraw the Bureau’s demand that a mortgage payment company post bond after being ordered to pay a $7.9 million civil money penalty (see previous InfoBytes coverage here). Mulvaney’s December 4 statements also included a freeze on the Bureau’s collection of consumers’ personally identifiable information. These actions follow directions issued by Mulvaney during his first week at the Bureau as previously covered by InfoBytes here.

    Mulvaney has also suggested that he would not seek to repeal the Bureau’s final rule concerning payday loans, vehicle title loans, deposit advance products, and longer-term balloon loans but expressed his support for resolution H.J. Res. 122, which was introduced December 1 by a group of bipartisan lawmakers to override the rule under the Congressional Review Act (CRA).  The final rule is set to take effect January 16, 2018, but compliance is not mandatory until August 19, 2019. A press release issued by the House Financial Services Committee in support of the resolution stated, “small-dollar loans are already regulated by all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Native American tribes. The CFPB’s rule would mark the first time the federal government has gotten involved in the regulation of these loans.”

    On December 5, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a letter to Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) stating that CFPB Bulletin 2013-02 (Bulletin) on indirect auto lending and compliance with the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) is a “general statement of policy and a rule” that is subject to override under the CRA. According to GAO, the CRA’s definition of a “rule” includes both traditional rules, which typically require notice to the public and an opportunity to comment, and general statements of policy, which do not. GAO concluded that the Bulletin meets this definition “since it applies to all indirect auto lenders; it has future effect; and it is designed to prescribe the Bureau’s policy in enforcing fair lending laws.” GAO’s decision may allow Congress to repeal the four year old Bulletin through a House and Senate majority vote under the CRA, followed by the President’s signature. Sen. Toomey issued a statement saying, “I intend to do everything in my power to repeal this ill-conceived rule using the [CRA].”

    Additionally, and as expected, on December 5, former Director Richard Cordray officially announced his candidacy for governor of Ohio.

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  • Mulvaney Completes First Week as Acting Director of CFPB

    Federal Issues

    In his first week at the Bureau, Mulvaney ordered freezes on hiring and any new regulations for 30 days, and also announced a halt to payouts from the enforcement fund. It is also reported that Mulvaney has put new enforcement actions on hold as he reviews on-going matters. Additionally, on December 1, the White House appointed Brian Johnson, an aide to House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), to assist Mick Mulvaney in his role as the Acting Director of the CFPB. Johnson was a featured speaker at Buckley Sandler’s CFPB Today conference at the end of October.

    As previously covered by InfoBytes, Judge Timothy Kelly, denied CFPB Deputy Director Leandra English’s  request for a temporary restraining order preventing Mulvaney from acting as the Acting Director. English is expected to continue the litigation; a briefing schedule is due in the case by December 1.

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  • CFPB Fines Large Bank for Alleged Student Loan Servicing Issues

    Lending

    On November 21, the CFPB announced it had entered into a consent order with a large national bank over allegations that the bank engaged in unfair and deceptive practices in violation of the Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010 (CFPA) related to its student loan servicing activities. The order, which the bank consented to without admitting or denying the findings, asserts that for the student loan accounts it was servicing, the bank (i) misrepresented information to borrowers about tax benefits; (ii) failed to refund interest and fees inaccurately charged; (iii) misstated minimum monthly payment amounts in bills; and (iv) failed to provide required information when denying co-signer release requests. In addition to imposing a civil money penalty, the CFPB’s order requires the bank to pay restitution to certain consumers and implement certain policies.

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  • CFPB Releases Report on Consumers’ Overdraft Experiences

    Consumer Finance

    On November 21, the CFPB released a report summarizing findings from a qualitative study about consumers’ experiences with overdraft programs. The study consisted of one-on-one interviews by telephone with 88 individual consumers from May 2014 through June 2014 (the report does not comment on the three-year gap between the interviews and the release). According to the CFPB, the study was not designed to identify systematic trends but instead to provide an in-depth review of consumers’ experiences. The report concluded that consumers need a wide range of educational resources to support the varying experiences and perceptions they have with overdraft services. For example, the report notes that while some consumers commented on unexpected overdraft fees after miscalculating the timing of transaction processing, others noted their intentional use of overdraft options to make purchases or pay bills. The CFPB encouraged financial educators to develop their own overdraft resources with the awareness that consumers may use and interpret programs in varying ways and provided a list of CFPB resources available for use.

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  • CFPB Reports on Financial Institution Outreach to Limited English Proficient Consumers

    Consumer Finance

    On November 22, the CFPB released a report focusing on ways financial institutions can expand and improve services to Limited English Proficient consumers (LEP consumers) who often face challenges related to language access and financial literacy. According to findings in the report, LEP consumers often have trouble accessing and interpreting financial products and services, as well as difficulty completing financial documents, managing bank accounts, resolving problems, and accessing financial education. The Bureau’s report—which is compiled from information gathered in interviews with financial institutions, trade associations, nonprofit advocacy groups, and federal agencies, as well as secondary research—presents five common approaches used in the industry to address issues facing LEP consumers: (i) assessing the language needs of consumers; (ii) offering centralized technical support for translation and interpretation initiatives; (iii) developing systems to ensure accuracy of translations and interpretations; (iv) providing training for staff and contractors to ensure language and cultural competencies; and (v) offering platforms to interact with LEP consumers.

    The report follows the November 16 release of the CFPB’s final version of its Language Access Plan designed to continue efforts to provide non-English speaking persons access to its own programs and services, including offering translated consumer-facing brochures and handling complaints from consumers in multiple languages. (See previous InfoBytes coverage here.)

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  • CFPB Publishes Notices and Requests for Comment Concerning Collection of Consumer Complaints

    Consumer Finance

    On November 28, the CFPB published two notices of its intention to obtain OMB approval to continue its existing consumer complaint collection activities using its “Consumer Response Intake Form” and “Generic Information Collection Plan for Consumer Complaint and Information Collection System (Testing and Feedback).” According to the CFPB, use of the forms allows for electronic complaint submission on the Bureau’s website and streamlines the complaint process for consumers. Comments on the agency’s notices (CFPB-2017-0035 and CFPB-2017-0036) must be received by December 28, 2017.

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  • Court Denies Restraining Order Preventing Mulvaney’s Appointment

    Federal Issues

    On November 28, Judge Timothy Kelly denied a request by Leandra English, who was appointed Deputy Director of the CFPB by Richard Cordray on the same day as his resignation, for a temporary restraining order preventing the President from appointing anyone other than English as Acting Director and preventing Mick Mulvaney from serving as the Acting Director (see previous InfoBytes coverage for details).

    English’s counsel, in remarks to reporters outside the courtroom, stated they may seek an appeal, may move for a preliminary injunction, or may move for an expedited final decision on the merits.

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