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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.

    Consumer Finance CFPB Overdraft Consumer Education

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  • Otting Sworn in as Comptroller of the Currency; Pushes for Regulation Review

    Federal Issues

    On November 27, Joseph M. Otting was sworn in as the next Comptroller of the Currency following Senate confirmation on November 16. Otting commented in a statement prepared for his swearing-in that he understands “as a career banker” the value and importance of “effective supervision” as well as “the challenges bankers face as they work to meet customer needs while coping with unnecessary regulatory burden that makes it more difficult and complicated than necessary.” Otting asserted that in order for regulations to be effective, modifications must be made as the nation’s needs change. Otting’s stated priorities include “enhancing the value of national bank and federal savings association charters, reducing unnecessary burden, and promoting economic opportunity while maintaining the safety and soundness of the federal banking system.”

    Federal Issues OCC Bank Regulatory

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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.)

    Consumer Finance CFPB Consumer Education

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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.

    Consumer Finance CFPB Consumer Complaints OMB

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  • OFAC Expands North Korean Sanctions

    Financial Crimes

    On November 21, the day after President Trump placed North Korea back on the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism, the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) imposed additional sanctions in an action to “disrupt North Korea’s illicit funding of its unlawful nuclear and ballistic missile programs.” The sanctions were issued against one individual, 13 entities, and 20 vessels pursuant to Executive Order 13810 and Executive Order 13722. The sanctioned entities have commercial ties to North Korea or operate transportation networks in the country, and the sanctioned individuals are “involved in the exportation of workers from North Korea, including exportation to generate revenue for the Government of North Korea.” All property held by the sanctioned individuals and entities within U.S. jurisdiction was frozen, and transactions between the sanctioned individuals and entities and Americans are also “generally prohibited.” 

    See here for previous InfoBytes coverage on North Korean sanctions.

    Financial Crimes OFAC Sanctions International

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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.

    Federal Issues CFPB OMB Trump Courts CFPB Succession

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  • FinCEN Issues $8 Million Penalty to California Club Card for Willful Violation of Anti-Money Laundering Controls

    Financial Crimes

    On November 17, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) announced that it had assessed an $8 million civil money penalty against a California card club company for “willfully violating” the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) from 2009 to 2017. According to FinCEN, the company failed to establish and maintain an operational anti-money laundering program and failed to detect and timely report many suspicious transactions. FinCEN asserts that during the eight-year period, the company failed to file any Suspicious Activity Reports regarding loan sharking and other criminal activities being conducted through the company that were the subject of a 2011 state and federal law enforcement raid. Additionally, the company allegedly failed to implement sufficient internal controls to monitor risks associated with gaming practices that allowed customers to co-mingle and pool bets with anonymity.

    The penalty assessment does not reflect consent by the company, and the company may elect to contest the penalty by not paying within the allotted time period.

    Financial Crimes FinCEN Anti-Money Laundering Enforcement SARs

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  • OFAC Penalizes Credit Card Issuer for Violations of Cuban Assets Control Regulations

    Financial Crimes

    On November 17, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced that it had reached a $204,277 settlement with a U.S. financial institution for alleged violations of the Cuban Assets Control Regulations (CACR). The settlement involves actions taken by an international credit card company which, at the time of the apparent violations, was a wholly owned subsidiary of an entity that was itself 50 percent owned by the U.S. financial institution. According to the announcement, between 2009 and 2014, credit cards that the company issued to over 100 corporate customers were used to make purchases in Cuba or otherwise involved Cuba. OFAC asserts that the company failed to implement controls to prevent this even though it had policies and procedures in place to review transactions for compliance with CACR.

    In determining the settlement amount, OFAC considered that (i) employees within the company had reason to know of the conduct that led to the alleged violations; (ii) none of the entities involved appeared to appreciate the risk that the credit cards might be used in Cuba; (iii) at the time they occurred, the actions resulted in harm to the US sanctions program objectives; (iv) the U.S. financial institution is a large and sophisticated financial entity; and (v) during the investigation, the entities provided “verifiably inaccurate or incomplete, including material omissions.” OFAC also considered the fact that the entities voluntarily self-disclosed the alleged violations and the U.S. financial institution took “swift and appropriate remedial action” upon discovery.

    OFAC recently announced updates to CACR, covered by InfoBytes here.

    Financial Crimes OFAC Department of Treasury Enforcement Settlement Credit Cards

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  • FINRA Provides Additional Guidance on AML Obligations

    Financial Crimes

    On November 21, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) published additional guidance regarding member firms’ obligations under FINRA Rule 3310, which requires adoption of an anti-money laundering (AML) program. The guidance provided in Regulatory Notice 17-40 follows the Financial Crime Enforcement Network’s (FinCEN) 2016 adoption of a final rule on customer due diligence requirements for financial institutions (CDD Rule). Under the CDD Rule, member firms must now comply with a “fifth pillar,” which requires them to “identify and verify the identity of the beneficial owners of all legal entity customers” at the time when a new account is opened, subject to certain exclusions and exemptions. Additionally, the “fifth pillar” requires member firms to understand the nature and purpose of customer relationships, conduct ongoing monitoring to report suspicious activities and transactions, and maintain and update customer information “on a risk basis.”

    The “fifth pillar” supplements the previously established Bank Secrecy Act AML program requirements, coined the “four pillars,” which require member firms to (i) establish policies and procedures to “achieve compliance”; (ii) conduct independent compliance testing; (iii) designate responsible individuals to implement and monitor AML compliance; and (iv) provide ongoing training.

    The CDD Rule became effective on July 11, 2016, and member firms must comply by May 11, 2018. FINRA advises members firms to consult the CDD Rule, along with FinCEN's related FAQs, to ensure AML program compliance.

    Financial Crimes FinCEN FINRA Anti-Money Laundering Bank Secrecy Act

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  • Federal Reserve Governor Calls for Collaboration Between Regulators, Banks, Data Aggregators, and Fintech Firms for Financial Data Sharing Standards

    FinTech

    On November 16, Federal Reserve Governor Lael Brainard spoke at a fintech conference sponsored by the University of Michigan regarding consumers’ right to understand and control how their financial data is used by third-party aggregators, and in developing fintech technology. “There's an increasing recognition that consumers need better information about the terms of their relationships with aggregators, more control over what is shared, and the ability to terminate the relationship,” Brainard noted. “Consumers should have relatively simple means of being able to consent to what data are being shared and at what frequency. And consumers should be able to stop data sharing and request the deletion of data that have been stored.”

    Brainard emphasized that regulators, data aggregators, bank partners, and fintech developers should jointly develop a common, consistent message for how customer data is shared and protected within the fintech space and “other areas experiencing significant technological change.” As previously reported in InfoBytes, on October 18, the CFPB issued principles concerning the security and transparency of financial data sharing when companies—including fintech firms—get authorization from consumers to access their account data that reside in separate organizations to provide products and services.

    Fintech Federal Reserve Consumer Finance Privacy/Cyber Risk & Data Security EFTA CFPB Third-Party

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