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On June 15, NYDFS issued a proposed check cashing regulation following an emergency regulation announced in February that halted annual increases on check-cashing fees and locked the current maximum fee set last February at 2.27 percent (covered by InfoBytes here). The proposed regulation establishes a new fee methodology which evaluates the needs of licensees and consumers who use check cashing services. Two tiers of fees for licensed check cashers are recommended: (i) the maximum fee that a check casher may charge for a public assistance check issued by a federal or state government agency (including checks for Social Security, unemployment, retirement, veteran’s benefits, emergency relief, housing assistance, or tax refunds) is set at 1.5 percent; and (ii) the maximum fee a check casher is permitted to charge for all other checks, drafts, or money orders is $1 or 2.2 percent, whichever is greater. NYDFS added that starting January 31, 2027 (and annually every five years thereafter), licensed check cashers may request an increase in the maximum fees established. Comments on the proposed regulation will be accepted for 60 days.
On February 14, NYDFS issued an emergency regulation halting annual increases on check-cashing fees and locking the current maximum fee set last February at 2.27 percent. “As our world evolves, so must our approach to regulation, which is why for the first time in Department history, we are reexamining the methodology used to determine the maximum check cashing fee,” Superintendent Adrienne A. Harris stated. “[NYDFS] has a responsibility to take a hard look at the impacts of financial products and services on New Yorkers, especially members of underserved communities.” NYDFS noted that the emergency regulation underscores its concerns over the fixed methodology used to determine annual check-cashing fees, which is based on the Consumer Price Index and is not, according to the Department, “necessarily a reliable or accurate indicator of the costs of operating within a specific sector of business, such as financial services.” NYDFS stated that it intends to promulgate a proposed regulation for a new fee methodology and will seek public comments before a final regulation is issued. The emergency regulation will remain in effect until a final regulation is adopted.
On March 17, the Mississippi governor signed HB 1075, which will, among other things, reenact licensing provisions for lenders who provide “credit availability transactions” to customers through fully amortized loans paid over a term of four to 12 months. Under the act, transactions made by unlicensed lenders will be null and void. The act outlines licensing requirements, including those related to annual renewal fees, bond deposits, and expedited licensing requests. The provisions also allow the commissioner to “issue a temporary license authorizing the operation of a credit availability business on the receipt of an application for a license involving principals and owners that are substantially identical to those of an existing licensed credit availability licensee.” Temporary licenses will remain effective until a determination is made on the status of a permanent license. The act also outlines provisions for check cashing business, including licensing requirements and limits on other activities. The act takes effect July 1.
Louisiana Office of Financial Institutions extends emergency declarations to non-depository entities
On July 24, the Louisiana Office of Financial Institutions extended emergency declarations for residential mortgage lenders, check cashers, bond for deed escrow agents and repossession agents, brokers and lenders licensed under the Louisiana Consumer Credit Law and Deferred Presentment and Small Loan Act, and pawnbrokers. The orders were previously covered here. Such entities are granted the authority to temporarily close licensed locations within Louisiana or to temporarily close and/or relocate to another location within the state. Mortgage loan originators are permitted to work from home, whether located in Louisiana or another state, even if the home is not registered with the LOFI. The declarations also provide instructions for notifying the LOFI of a temporary location change. The declarations will remain in effect as long as there is a public health emergency relating to Covid-19, or until rescinded or replaced.
On June 5, the Louisiana Office of Financial Institutions updated its non-depository 2020 Covid-19 emergency declarations to extend earlier guidance regarding closure of licensed locations and temporary location changes for residential mortgage lenders, brokers and originators, check cashers, lenders or brokers licensed pursuant to the Louisiana Consumer Credit Law and the Louisiana Deferred Presentment and Small Loan Act, pawnbrokers, and repossession agents and bond for deed escrow agents. The original emergency declarations were previously covered here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. The declarations extend the guidance until June 26, 2020, unless terminated sooner.
On April 9, Louisiana Office of Financial Institutions Commissioner John Ducrest declared a state of emergency and issued guidance for Louisiana-based check-cashing entities in response to the Covid-19 crisis. The order: (i) granted check cashers the authority to temporarily relocate and close operations, services, or products; (ii) waived the 30-day notification requirement pertaining to closures or relocations of services, operations, and products; and (iii) provided guidance for reporting operational changes and temporary relocations. The declaration expires April 30, unless otherwise extended or renewed.
Louisiana Commissioner of Financial Institutions advises non-depository institutions on temporary closures
On March 18, Louisiana’s Commissioner of Financial Institutions released emergency advisories for non-depository institutions, specifically repossession agents and bond for deed escrow agents, check cashers, pawnbrokers, licensed consumer lenders/brokers, and residential mortgage lenders. The advisories authorized the temporary closure or relocations of licensed locations and waived the standard 30-day notice requirement for such closures. Licensees should notify the Office of Financial Institutions as soon as possible regarding any temporary closures or relocations and may submit requests for waiver of the standard change of location fee by email. Unless otherwise instructed, temporary location changes should not be submitted through NMLS. In addition, the advisory for residential mortgage lenders confirms that licensed MLOs may work from their homes.
On March 19, the Kentucky governor signed S.B. 145, which establishes separate licenses for check cashing and deferred deposit service businesses. In addition, S.B. 145 creates a new section that allows the Department of Financial Institutions commissioner to (i) require license applications and certain other regulatory filings to also be filed with the State Regulatory Registry (Registry); (ii) report violations, enforcement actions, and other relevant information to the Registry; and (iii) access the Registry as “an agent for requesting information from and distributing information to the [DOJ] or other governmental agencies.” The act takes effect 90 days after adjournment of the legislature.
On October 24, the Pennsylvania governor signed HB 2453, which amends the state’s Check Casher Licensing Act to make several changes in the licensing process for check-cashing entities. Specifically, the amendments (i) allow for check-cashing licenses to be issued for up to 14 months; (ii) require a licensee to demonstrate that it is conducting business in accordance with the law for annual renewal; and (iii) allow for the suspension or revocation of licenses for certain activities, including material misstatements in the application and engaging in dishonest, fraudulent, or illegal practices or conduct in connection with the check casher business. The amendments also, among other things, clarify that a licensee may not cash or advance any money on post-dated personal checks, but allow for the cashing of post-dated government checks if the check is dated no more than five days after it is presented to the licensee and the fee does not exceed the maximum permitted under the Act. Additionally, the amendments authorize fines of up to $10,000 for violations of the act. The amendments are effective on December 23, 2018.
On October 24, the CFPB announced a settlement with a Tennessee-based small dollar lender, resolving allegations that the lender violated the Consumer Financial Protection Act (CFPA). Specifically, as stated in the consent order, the CFPB alleges that the lender (i) deceptively threatened to sue consumers on time-barred debts; (ii) misled consumers that the lender would report late payments to credit reporting agencies when the lender did not; and (iii) abusively set-off previous loans by telling its employees not to tell check-cashing consumers that it would deduct previous amounts owed from the check proceeds. Consequently, the Bureau alleged that the lender took “unreasonable advantage of the consumers’ lack of understanding” that the lender would take a portion of the check they intended to cash and physically kept the check away from consumers until the transaction was complete, which “nullified” any written set-off disclosures when the consumer signed his or her agreement. In addition to the $200,000 civil money penalty, the consent order requires the lender to (i) pay approximately $32,000 in restitution to consumers, and (ii) establish a compliance plan with detailed steps and timelines for complying with applicable laws.
- Buckley Webcast: State supervision, enforcement, and multistate coordination
- Benjamin W. Hutten to discuss “Latest on AML regulations and impact of economic sanctions” at a Mortgage Bankers Association webinar
- Hank Asbill to discuss “Ethical issues at sentencing” at the 31st Annual National Seminar on Federal Sentencing
- Benjamin W. Hutten to discuss “Fundamentals of financial crime compliance” at the Practicing Law Institute
- Benjamin W. Hutten to discuss “Ongoing CDD: Operational considerations” at NAFCU’s Regulatory Compliance & BSA Seminar