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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

New Mexico caps interest rates on small-dollar loans at 36%

State Issues Licensing State Legislation Interest Rate Usury Consumer Finance New Mexico Regulation Z

State Issues

On March 1, the New Mexico governor signed HB 132, which amends certain provisions related to the state’s small dollar lending requirements. Among other things, the bill makes several amendments to the New Mexico Bank Installment Loan Act of 1959 (BILA) and the New Mexico Small Loan Act of 1955 (SLA) by raising the maximum installment loan amount to $10,000 and providing the following: (i) “no lender shall make a loan pursuant to the [BILA] to a borrower who is also indebted to that lender pursuant to the [SLA] unless the loan made pursuant to the [SLA] is paid and released at the time the loan is made”; (ii) only federally insured depository institutions may make a loan under the BILA with an initial stated maturity of less than one hundred twenty days; (iii) a lender that is not a federally insured depository institution may not make a loan under the BILA “unless the loan is repayable in a minimum of four substantially equal installment payments of principal and interest”; and (iv) lenders, aside from federally insured depository institutions, may not make a loan with an annual percentage rate (APR) greater than 36 percent (a specified APR increase is permitted if the prime rate of interest exceeds 10 percent for three consecutive months). When calculating the APR, a lender must include finance charges as defined in Regulation Z “for any ancillary product or service sold or any fee charged in connection or concurrent with the extension of credit, any credit insurance premium or fee and any charge for single premium credit insurance or any fee related to insurance.” Excluded from the calculation are fees paid to public officials in connection with the extension of credit, including fees to record liens, and fees on a loan of $500 or less, provided the fee does not exceed five percent of the loan’s total principal and is not imposed on a borrower more than once in a twelve-month period.

The act also expands the SLA’s scope on existing anti-evasion provisions to specify that a person may not make small dollar loans in amounts of $10,000 or less without first having obtained a license from the director. The amendments also expand the scope of the anti-evasion provisions to include (i) the “making, offering, assisting or arranging a debtor to obtain a loan with a greater rate of interest . . . through any method, including mail, telephone, internet or any electronic means, regardless of whether the person has a physical location in the state”; and (ii) “a person purporting to act as an agent, service provider or in another capacity for another entity that is exempt from the [SLA]” provided the person meets certain specified criteria, such as “the person holds, acquires or maintains, directly or indirectly, the predominate economic interest in the loan” or “the totality of the circumstances indicate that the person and the transaction is structured to evade the requirements of the [SLA].” Under the act, a violation of a provision of the SLA that constitutes either an unfair or deceptive trade practice or an unconscionable trade practice is actionable under the Unfair Practices Act.

The act also makes various amendments to a licensees’ books and records requirements to facilitate the examinations and investigations conducted by the Director of the Financial Institutions Division of the Regulation and Licensing Department. Failure to comply may result in the suspension of a license. Additionally, the act provides numerous amended licensing reporting requirements concerning the loan products offered by a licensee, average repayment times, and “the number of borrowers who extended, renewed, refinanced or rolled over their loans prior to or at the same time as paying their loan balance in full, or took out a new loan within thirty days of repaying that loan,” among other things. The act also outlines credit reporting requirements, advertising restrictions, and requirements for the making and paying of small dollar loans, including specific limitations on charges after judgment and interest.

The act takes effect January 1, 2023.