California enacts student loan servicing requirements
On September 25, the California governor signed AB 376, which provides new requirements for student loan servicers. Among other things, these requirements require servicers to (i) timely post, process, and credit payments within certain timeframes; (ii) apply overpayments “consistent with the best financial interest of a student loan borrower,” and apply partial payments so that late fees and negative credit reporting are minimized; (iii) diligently oversee service providers; and (iv) provide specialized training for personnel responsible for offering advice to “military borrowers, borrowers in public service, borrowers with disabilities, and older borrowers.” The bill also prohibits student loan servicers from, among other things, engaging in unfair or deceptive practices or abusive acts and practices. Additionally, the bill will allow a borrower “who suffers damages as a result of a person’s failure to comply with these provisions as well as all applicable federal laws relating to student loan servicing to bring an action for actual damages, injunctive relief, restitution, punitive damages, attorney’s fees, and other relief, including treble damages in certain circumstances.” The bill also provides for an opportunity to cure alleged violations. The bill further stipulates that, starting July 1, 2021, the Commission of Business Oversight will be authorized to compile information on student loan servicers’ business conduct and various activities in order to monitor and assess consumer risk.