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  • NYDFS fines non-licensed student loan servicer for alleged TILA disclosure violations

    On August 15, NYDFS announced a settlement with a student loan servicer and its parent company to resolve allegations that the companies failed to comply with state financial services law requirements when servicing, purchasing, and originating student financing agreements. According to the consent order, the student loan servicer—which, among other things, services student financing agreements that constitute retail installment obligations within the meaning of N.Y. Banking Law § 491(6-a)—allegedly engaged in the business of a sales finance company without being licensed by NYDFS and failed to follow the E-Sign Act’s disclosure requirements. NYDFS also claimed the companies failed to disclose to consumers (i) their right to receive non-electronic TILA disclosures; (ii) how to withdraw consent for notice by electronic means; and (iii) the method for requesting paper copy TILA disclosures. Furthermore, the companies also allegedly failed to provide consumers with a statement of the “requirements for access to and retention of TILA disclosures provided to them electronically.” In addition, NYDFS stated that the parent company provided New York consumers with promissory notes containing clauses purportedly allowing for the capitalization/compounding of interest under certain circumstances, which violated state banking laws, even though the companies contended they did not actually capitalize interest.

    In addition to paying a $203,000 civil penalty and $33,309 in disgorgement, the student loan servicer will apply for a sales finance company license and a student loan servicer license, and the companies will correct issues concerning their capitalization of interest as well as remove incorrect information from their loan documents.

    According to NYDFS, New York’s student loan servicer licensing law, which requires companies servicing student loans held by state residents to meet new standards, takes effect October 9.

    Licensing State Issues Student Lending Student Loan Servicer NYDFS

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  • Illinois creates commission to increase accessibility to certified financial products

    State Issues

    On August 19, the Illinois governor signed SB 1332, which is designed to decrease low-income consumers’ reliance on alternative financial products and increase the accessibility to certified financial products (defined as a “financial product offered by a financial institution that meets minimum requirements as established by the Comptroller”). SB 1332 creates the Illinois Bank On Initiative Commission, chaired by the state Comptroller, which will provide an annual, publically available report (starting October 2020) that will list: (i) authorized certified financial products and minimum requirements for qualification; (ii) financial institutions providing certified financial products; and (iii) outreach strategies for facilitating access to certified financial products. SB 1332 is effective immediately.

    State Issues State Legislation Consumer Finance

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  • Illinois requires companies to report data breaches to attorney general

    State Issues

    On August 9, the Illinois governor signed SB 1624, which requires that a single data breach involving the personal information of more than 500 Illinois residents must be reported to the state attorney general. The notice must include: (i) a description of the nature of the breach of security or unauthorized acquisition or use; (ii) the number of Illinois residents affected by such incident at the time of notification; and (iii) any steps the data collector has taken or plans to take relating to the incident. Notification is required to be made “in the most expedient time possible and without unreasonable delay,” but no later than when the data collector informs consumers of the breach under current law. The bill is effective January 1, 2020.

    State Issues State Legislation Privacy/Cyber Risk & Data Security Data Breach State Attorney General

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  • Accurate adverse reporting not a violation of FCRA, says 3rd Circuit

    Courts

    On August 15, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of a credit reporting agency (CRA), concluding that the CRA did not violate the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) by reporting past negative incidents. According to the opinion, after struggling financially, a married couple missed payments on at least five credit accounts. The consumers allegedly resolved the late payments and filed complaints with the CRA arguing the continued presence of the late payments misrepresented the “real status of their credit.” Additionally, the consumers argued some of the “key factors” the CRA discloses to credit providers, “such as ‘[s]erious delinquency’ or ‘[a]mount owed on revolving [a]ccounts is too high,’ are misleading.” The consumers filed suit against the CRA, alleging a variety of federal and state law claims, including violations of the FCRA for failing to maintain reasonable procedures and failing to conduct a reasonable investigation into disputes. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the CRA and the consumers appealed their FCRA claims.

    On appeal, the 3rd Circuit agreed with the district court, concluding the consumers must show their credit report contains inaccurate information to prevail on their claims, which the consumers failed to do. The panel noted the consumers admitted they made the late payments and did not allege the adverse information is more than seven years old. The panel concluded the consumers’ claim “is not that the information in their credit reports and disclosures is inaccurate, but rather that it is irrelevant,” which does not support their claims for a violation under the FCRA.

    Courts FCRA Appellate Third Circuit Credit Reporting Agency Credit Report

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  • Brokers to pay $4.5 million to settle ADR mishandling claims

    Securities

    On August 16, the SEC announced a settlement with two brokers to resolve allegations concerning the improper handling of pre-released American Depositary Receipts (ADRs), or “U.S. securities that represent shares of a foreign companies.” According to the SEC, both brokers improperly “obtained pre-released ADRs when they should have known that the pre-release transactions were not backed by foreign shares.” The SEC asserted the brokers improperly obtained the pre-released ADRs from other broker-dealers—with one of the brokers also obtaining the pre-released ADRs from depository banks—which “resulted in an inflated total number of foreign issuer’s tradeable securities and short selling and dividend arbitrage.” The SEC further alleged the brokers violated the Securities Act of 1933 and failed to reasonably supervise their securities lending desk personnel. While neither broker admitted nor denied the SEC’s findings, the orders require them to pay, combined, more than $4.5 million in disgorgement, prejudgment interest, and penalties. The orders acknowledge the brokers’ cooperation in the investigation.

    Securities SEC American Depositary Receipts Settlement

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  • OFAC announces settlement with trade credit insurer for sanctions violations

    Financial Crimes

    On August 16, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced a $345,315 settlement with a Maryland-based trade credit insurer for two alleged violations of the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Sanctions Regulations. The settlement resolves potential civil liability for the company’s receipt of payment from the liquidation of assets belonging to a company that was added to the List of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons in 2016. According to OFAC, by accepting the assignment to collect debt owed by the designated company and receiving payment, the company violated sanctions regulations.

    In arriving at the settlement amount, OFAC considered various mitigating factors, including (i) the company has not received a penalty or finding of a violation in the five years preceding the transactions at issue; (ii) the company voluntarily conducted a full internal review, cooperated with OFAC during the investigation, and undertook remedial efforts to minimize the risk of similar violations from occurring in the future; and (iii) the company agreed to implement certain compliance commitments to ensure the strength of its sanctions compliance program.

    OFAC also considered various aggravating factors, including that the company did not voluntarily self-disclose the issue to OFAC and the company failed to undertake measures to confirm the assignment of debt and acceptance of payment was permitted under existing authorizations.

    Financial Crimes Department of Treasury OFAC Sanctions Of Interest to Non-US Persons Settlement

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  • California DBO releases draft regulations for commercial financing disclosures

    State Issues

    In July, the California Department of Business Oversight (DBO) issued a request for comment on the first draft of regulations implementing the state’s new law on commercial financing disclosures. As previously covered by InfoBytes, in September 2018, the California governor signed SB 1235, which requires non-bank lenders and other finance companies to provide written consumer-style disclosures for certain commercial transactions, including small business loans and merchant cash advances. Most notably, the act requires financing entities subject to the law to disclose in each commercial financing transaction—defined as an “accounts receivable purchase transaction, including factoring, asset-based lending transaction, commercial loan, commercial open-end credit plan, or lease financing transaction intended by the recipient for use primarily for other than personal, family, or household purposes”—the “total cost of the financing expressed as an annualized rate” in a form to be prescribed by the DBO.

    The draft regulation provides general format and content requirements for each disclosure, as well as specific requirements for each type of covered transaction. In addition to the detailed information in the draft regulation, the DBO has released model disclosure forms for the six financing types, (i) closed-end transactions; (ii) open-ended credit plans; (iii) general factoring; (iv) sales-based financing; (v) lease financing; and (vi) asset-based lending. Additionally, the draft regulation uses an annual percentage rate (APR) as the annualized rate disclosure (as opposed to the annualized cost of capital, which was considered in the December 2018 request for comments, covered by InfoBytes here). Moreover, the draft regulation provides additional information for calculating the APR for factoring transactions as well as calculating the estimated APR for sales-based financing transactions.

    Comments on the draft regulations are due by September 9.

    State Issues Small Business Lending Fintech Disclosures APR Commercial Finance Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Nonbank

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  • District Court approves TCPA class action settlement

    Courts

    On August 15, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California entered a final approval order and judgment to resolve class action allegations claiming a security system company and its third-party dealer violated the TCPA through the use of an automatic telephone dialing system and prerecorded messages. According to the claims, consumers—including those on the do-not-call registry—allegedly received telemarketing calls at their residences or on cellphones from the dealer or the dealer’s sub-dealers promoting goods or services offered by the company. The company argued it was not responsible for calls the dealer made on its behalf, but the district court denied summary judgment and set a trial date. However, prior to the trial’s commencement, the parties reached a settlement. Under the terms of the settlement, the company agreed to implement changes to its practices to ensure TCPA compliance and banned the dealer from marketing or activating new accounts for the company. The company also agreed to pay $28 million into a settlement fund for consumer redress, no more than $1.4 million towards settlement administrator costs and expenses, $30,000 total in service awards to class representatives, and combined attorneys’ fees and litigation costs of approximately $7.5 million.

    Courts TCPA Settlement Autodialer Privacy/Cyber Risk & Data Security

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  • Conn. Supreme Court reverses foreclosure judgment, concludes bank misconduct allegations are sufficient

    Courts

    On August 13, the Connecticut Supreme Court reversed the appellate court’s judgment, concluding a borrower’s special defenses and counterclaims raised against a bank during a foreclosure action “bore a sufficient connection to the enforcement of the note or the mortgage.” According to the opinion, the bank sought to foreclose on real property owned by the borrower, and during that proceeding, the borrower and loan servicer began loan modification negotiations. The borrower contacted the Connecticut Department of Banking, which intervened on his behalf in the negotiations, but the bank subsequently increased the mortgage payment and the parties were unable to reach an agreement. The borrower asserted special defenses and counterclaims, which included, among other things, that the bank allegedly engaged in conduct that increased the borrowers overall indebtedness and caused the borrower to “incur costs that impeded his ability to cure the default, and reneged on loan modifications.” The trial court rendered a judgment of strict foreclosure, which the appellate court affirmed.

    On appeal, the Supreme Court held the appellate court incorrectly concluded the borrower’s allegations did not provide a legally sufficient basis for those defenses and counterclaims. The Court noted that the borrower’s allegations—that the bank “engaged in a pattern of misrepresentation and delay in postdefault loan modification negotiations before and after initiating a foreclosure action,” which added to the borrower’s debt and hampered his ability to avoid foreclosure—involved misconduct that “bore a sufficient connection to the enforcement of the note or the mortgage.” To the extent the intervention of the Department of Banking actually resulted in a binding loan modification, the potential breach of such agreement would also “provide a legally sufficient basis for special defenses in the foreclosure action.” Therefore, the Court reversed the appellate judgment upholding the strict foreclosure.

    Courts State Issues Mortgages Foreclosure Loan Modification

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  • HUD revises proposed FHA mortgage lender certification

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On August 14, HUD published revisions in the Federal Register to the Federal Housing Administration’s (FHA) lender certification requirements originally issued in May. (Previously covered by InfoBytes here.) In response to comments received on its initial proposal, HUD released a proposed streamlined FHA Annual Lender Certification, which removes a broad statement regarding lenders certifying compliance with all HUD requirements in order to maintain FHA approval. Commenters generally recommended HUD: “(1) Rescind the annual certification statements since the National Housing Act does not require certification of compliance with FHA eligibility requirements or completion of an annual certification; or (2) revise the annual certification statements to a general acknowledgement of the existence of policies and procedures that are reasonably designed to ensure material compliance.” Comments are due September 13.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance HUD FHA Mortgage Lenders Mortgages Compliance

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