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On May 6, the Indiana governor signed HB 1136, which amends the state’s Uniform Consumer Credit Code (UCCC) to, among other things, revise provisions related to authorized delinquency charges on consumer credit sales and consumer loans. Specifically, the amendments authorize a creditor to collect a delinquency charge of not more than (i) $5 for installments not paid in full within 10 days after the scheduled due date if installments are due every 14 days or less; (ii) $25 for installments not paid in full within 10 days after the scheduled due date if installments are due every 15 days or more; or (iii) $25 on single installments due at least 30 days after the consumer loan is made if the installment is not paid within 10 days after its scheduled due date. Furthermore, creditors are prohibited from collecting—whether directly or indirectly—a delinquency charge on any payment that (i) is paid within 10 days following its scheduled due date; and (ii) “is otherwise a full payment of the payment due for the applicable installment period. . .if the only delinquency with respect to a consumer credit sale, refinancing, or consolidation is attributable to a delinquency charge assessed on an earlier installment.” In addition, HB 1136 amends the maximum transaction fee for revolving loan accounts to the greater of 2 percent of the transaction amount or $10. The amendments take effect July 1.
On April 15, the Iowa governor signed HF 260, which amends the maximum interest rate and charges permitted under Iowa Code 2019. Specifically, for interest-bearing consumer credit transactions up to $30,000 (increased from $10,000), the interest rate may not exceed the lesser of $30 or ten percent of the financed amount. The amendments also specify the minimum charge creditors are allowed to collect or retain when prepayments are made in full, and stipulate that if a service charge has been collected on an interest-bearing consumer credit transaction then a “creditor shall not collect or retain a minimum charge upon prepayment.” HF 260 takes effect July 1.
On April 2, the New Mexico governor signed HB 584, which amends the Collection Agency Regulatory Act and the Motor Vehicle Sales Finance Act to, among other things, require sales finance companies obtain a license to conduct business in the state. The bill outlines licensing requirements for such companies. State and national banks authorized to do business in the state are not required to obtain a license under the Motor Vehicle Sales Finance Act, “but shall comply with all of its other provisions.” Under HB 584, the Director of the Financial Institutions Division of the Regulation and Licensing Department may utilize the Nationwide Multistate Licensing System and Registry (NMLS) or other entities designated by the NMLS in order to receive and process licensing applications. The Director is also granted the authority to issue and deny licenses.
HB 584 also amends definitions used within the state’s Mortgage Loan Originator Licensing Act, and outlines provisions related to (i) licensing, registration, renewal, and testing requirements; (ii) certain exemptions; (iii) the issuance of temporary licenses to out-of-state mortgage loan originators who are both licensed through the NMLS and complete the mandatory education and testing requirements; and (iv) continuing education requirements. HB 584 also grants the Director the authority to establish rules for licensing challenges; “deny, suspend, revoke or decline to renew a licenses for a violation of the New Mexico Mortgage Loan Originator Licensing Act”; and impose civil penalties for violations.
Furthermore, HB 584 also amends the definitions used within the state’s Uniform Money Services Act and the Collection Agency Regulatory Act by listing licensing application requirements, and granting the Director the same authorities provided above.
The amendments take effect July 1, 2019.
On April 3, the New Mexico governor signed HB 150, which amends the New Mexico Bank Installment Loan Act of 1959 and the New Mexico Small Loan Act of 1955 to, among other things, change provisions relating to financial institutions and (i) clarify that unfair or deceptive trade practices, or unconscionable trade practices, are considered violations of the Unfair Practices Act; (ii) expand annual lender reporting requirements, including identifying secured and unsecured loan products, fees and interests paid by the borrowers, loan terms, and default rates; (iii) clarify allowable loan insurance, including provisions related to licensing requirements for lenders; and (iv) expand state and federal disclosure requirements. The amendments also limit interest and other charges (permitted finance charges cannot exceed the lesser of $200 or 10 percent of the principal with outlined exceptions); grant rights of rescission within specified time frames to allow borrowers to return the full amount of funds advanced by the lender without being charged fees; and provide for penalties for lenders who willfully violate any of the provisions. Specifically, the act applies to installment loans covered by the Installment Loan Act and the Small Loan Act, and does not apply to federally insured depository institutions. The act takes effect January 1, 2020, and is applicable to loans subject to the aforementioned acts that are executed on or after the effective date.
On April 1, the North Carolina governor signed SB 162, which amends the allowed loan origination fee and late payment charges for certain loans. Under these amendments, the maximum origination fee covered banks are permitted to charge for a loan or credit extension not secured by real property with a principal amount of $100,000 or greater is one quarter of one percent of the principal. For loans with principal amounts of less than $100,000, the maximum origination fee varies between $100 to $250, depending on the loan amount. SB 162 also caps the annual percentage rate at 36 percent for loans or extensions of credit with principal amounts of less than $5,000, where the borrower is a natural person and the debt is primarily incurred for personal, family, or household purposes. Among other provisions, SB 162 also limits allowable late payment charges that vary depending on loan type and loan amount and also states that a late payment charge may not exceed the “amount disclosed with particularity to the borrower pursuant to [TILA],” if applicable. The amendments took effect immediately and apply to contracts entered into, renewed, or modified on or after April 1.
On March 26, the Kentucky governor signed HB 285, which amends licensing procedures and requirements for consumer loan companies. Specifically, HB 285, among other things:(i) increases application fees; (ii) establishes financial requirements for applicants and licensees; (iii) amends the process for approving applications and appealing denials; (iv) restricts licensing eligibility for individuals who previously had a license denied or revoked; and (v) authorizes use of the State Regulatory Registry by the state’s Department of Financial Institutions. HB 285 also establishes when the state commissioner may take adverse action and permits the commissioner to seek temporary or permanent relief against persons in violation of the law. The amendments take effect 90 days after the official end of the session.
On March 26, the West Virginia governor signed HB 3143, which amends the requirements for regulated consumer lending in the state to provide that a person making or taking assignment of consumer loans, or “undertaking direct collection of payments,” must first be licensed by the state’s Commissioner of Banking. Among other things, the act also adjusts the threshold amounts “for which certain finance charges can be imposed” on consumer loans, including revolving loan accounts. For instance, (i) on loans less than $3,500 that are not secured by real property, the finance charge “may not exceed 31 percent per year on the unpaid balance of the principal amount”; and (ii) on loans between $3,500 and $15,000, the finance charge “may not exceed 27 percent per year on the unpaid balance of the principal amount.” The act also provides restrictions relating to when finance charges may be imposed again, and states that, in certain cases, the “financing of  charges is permissible and does not constitute charging interest on interest.” The act further clarifies that the new licensing provisions exclude “any collection agencies as defined and licensed by the West Virginia Collection Agency Act of 1973.” HB 3143 is effective June 7.
On February 11, the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey denied a motion to dismiss a putative class action against a debt collector and its legal counsel, holding that the plaintiff debtor made a plausible claim under the FDCPA that the debt collector was required by New Jersey’s Consumer Financing Licensing Act (NJCFLA) to be licensed as a consumer lender. According to the opinion, the plaintiff had defaulted on his credit card debt and, nine years later, received a letter from the defendant’s legal counsel seeking payment of the balance due. The plaintiff filed a proposed class action arguing that the letter violated the FDCPA because the debt collector had not been licensed with the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance prior to purchasing the debt, and therefore lacked the authority to collect on the debt. The defendant debt collector moved to dismiss the complaint, claiming, among other things, that it was exempt from the licensing requirements because it did not qualify as a “consumer loan business” under the NJCFLA. The debt collector argued that it never exceeded the state’s interest rate cap and therefore was exempt from the licensing requirements. However, the plaintiff argued that the defendant’s licensing violation arose from a second part of the “consumer loan business” definition, under which the licensing requirements apply because the defendant “directly or indirectly engag[es] . . . in the business of buying. . . notes.” The district court agreed with the plaintiff, stating that “[t]his statutory language does not narrow the category of lenders falling under that definition according to the interest rates that they charge.”
On January 22, the Connecticut Governor signed HB 5765 to allow essential and nonessential federal employees, who are otherwise ineligible to receive unemployment assistance, to apply for zero-interest bank loans of up to $5,000 while the government remains shut down. Federal employees may be eligible for more if the partial government shutdown extends for a longer period. Under the new program, the loans have a 90-day grace period in which banks may not require repayment or charge interest on principal. The grace period begins when the affected employee’s federal agency is funded and is followed by a 180-day repayment period. Among other things, HB 5765 permits municipalities to defer property tax payments from impacted federal employees based on outlined eligibility criteria. According to a press release issued by the Governor, the coordination—where loans will be backed by the state—marks the first public-private partnership in the nation between a state and private banks and credit unions. The act takes effect immediately.
On January 11, the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota granted a motion for class certification in a case challenging a company’s payday lending practices under several Minnesota consumer protection statutes and common law. The plaintiffs filed the proposed class action alleging, among other things, that the company, which generates leads for payday lenders, failed to disclose that it was not licensed in the state, and that the loans may not be legal in Minnesota. The Minnesota Attorney General had notified the company in 2010 and 2012 that it was subject to Minnesota law restricting payday loans and that it was “aiding and abetting lenders that violate Minnesota law.” The court found that the plaintiffs identified “questions of law or fact common to the class that are capable of class-wide resolution,” which “predominate over any questions affecting only individual members.” The court noted that a class action would fairly promote the interests of the class and ensure judicial economy, and that even though the plaintiffs’ proposed method for measuring the amount of damages would require individual inquiry, “it is less consuming than issues requiring individual testimony and will not overwhelm the liability and damages issues capable of class-wide resolution.”
- Buckley Webcast: The next consumer litigation frontier? Assessing the consumer privacy litigation and enforcement landscape in 2019 and beyond
- Buckley Webcast: The CFPB’s proposed debt collection rule
- Buckley Webcast: Trends in e-discovery technology and case law
- Brandy A. Hood to discuss "What the flood? Don’t get washed away by a flood of changes" at the American Bankers Association Regulatory Compliance Conference
- Daniel P. Stipano to discuss "Mitigating the risks of banking high risk customers" at the American Bankers Association Regulatory Compliance Conference
- Daniel P. Stipano, Kari K. Hall, Brandy A. Hood, and H Joshua Kotin to discuss "Regulations that matter in a deregulatory environment" at the American Bankers Association Regulatory Compliance Conference Power Hour
- Buckley Webcast: Data breach litigation and biometric legislation
- Hank Asbill to discuss "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain: Addressing prosecutions driven by hidden actors" at the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers West Coast White Collar Conference
- Daniel P. Stipano to discuss "Keep off the grass: Mitigating the risks of banking marijuana-related businesses" at the ACAMS AML Risk Management Conference
- Daniel P. Stipano to discuss "Mid-year policy update" at the ACAMS AML Risk Management Conference
- Amanda R. Lawrence to discuss "Navigating the challenges of the latest data protection regulations and proven protocols for breach prevention and response" at the ACI National Forum on Consumer Finance Class Actions and Government Enforcement
- Benjamin W. Hutten to discuss "Requirements for banking inherently high-risk relationships" at the Georgia Bankers Association BSA Experience Program
- Daniel P. Stipano to discuss "Lessons learned from recent enforcement actions and CMPs" at the ACAMS AML & Financial Crime Conference
- Daniel P. Stipano to discuss "Assessing the CDD final rule: A year of transitions" at the ACAMS AML & Financial Crime Conference
- Douglas F. Gansler to discuss "Role of state AGs in consumer protection" at a George Mason University Law & Economics Center symposium