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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations


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  • CFPB releases comment letter on FTC enforcement action

    Federal Issues

    On February 18, the CFPB released a comment letter in response to the FTC’s request for comments on its proposed order with a business credit reporting agency alleging that the respondent engaged in deceptive and unfair practices. (Covered by InfoBytes here). In commending the FTC, the CFPB noted that “there are troubling conflicts of interest when the purveyor of credit reports also sells ancillary services.” The CFPB also discussed that the FCRA “may not have contemplated the serious challenges that small businesses face with respect to business credit reports and associated services such as the provision of credit scores,” and that small business “may not benefit” from the FCRA. The Bureau noted that “[b]usiness credit reporting companies should not be able to unfairly harm a small business’s and their owner’s or operator’s financing opportunities.” In supporting “greater remedial authorities for the FTC to be more in line with other civil law enforcement agencies,” the comment letter argued that “[s]tronger authorities for the FTC may help to remediate this full range of harms,” and that the Bureau “stands ready to work with the FTC and other federal and state law enforcement partners to examine whether there are other unlawful practices related to small business credit reporting by other providers.” According to the CFPB, the Bureau will be working with the FTC “to ensure that small businesses are treated fairly when it comes to accessing loans.” The CFPB also noted that it is “working on a rule to shine more light on small business lending, by gathering more data about whether and how small businesses are able to access credit,” and will provide regulators the opportunity “to understand the landscape of credit availability to small businesses that for too long have had to rely on opaque business credit reporting agencies as gatekeepers of financing,” according to the comment letter.

    Federal Issues CFPB FTC Credit Reporting Agency Enforcement FCRA Small Business

  • FDIC joins Operation HOPE to promote financial education

    On January 24, the FDIC announced a collaboration with Operation HOPE, Inc. to promote financial education. The collaboration will utilize the FDIC’s Money Smart curriculum and other resources to help educate minority- and/or women-owned businesses on how to do business with the agency. According to the FDIC, in 2001, the agency recognized “the importance of financial education, particularly for persons with little or no banking experience,” and created Money Smart. According to the FDIC and Operation Hope Collaboration Arrangement, the FDIC, among other things, will provide training for Operation Hope’s staff on how to teach the Money Smart curriculum and will help the nonprofit identify outreach initiatives to educate minority- and women-owned businesses on how to conduct business with the FDIC. According to FDIC Chairman Jelena McWilliams, the organization and the FDIC “share a common purpose to help every person belong to our nation’s financial system,” and together, “make certain our nation’s economy works for everyone.”

    Bank Regulatory FDIC Small Business Consumer Finance

  • SBA rolls out small business cybersecurity pilot program

    Privacy, Cyber Risk & Data Security

    On January 21, the SBA announced $3 million in funding for the agency’s Cybersecurity for Small Business Pilot Program. The funding is intended to help state governments assist emerging small businesses develop their cybersecurity infrastructures to combat increasing and evolving threats. Applications will be accepted from January 26 through March 3. “Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, small businesses have adopted technology at high rates to survive, operate, and grow their businesses. As a result, cybersecurity has become increasingly important as now, more than ever before, small business owners face cyber risks and challenges that could disrupt their operations and competitive advantages. As we seek to build a stronger and more inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystem, we must innovate and provide resources to meet the evolving needs of the growing number of small businesses. With this new funding opportunity, the SBA intends on leveraging the strengths across our state governments, territories, and tribal governments to provide services to help small businesses get cyber ready and, in the process, fortify our nation’s supply chains,” SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman said in the announcement.

    Privacy/Cyber Risk & Data Security SBA Small Business Covid-19

  • New York to make $3 billion available to assist renters and small businesses

    State Issues

    On May 25, New York’s Governor Cuomo announced that up to $2.7 billion in emergency rental assistance and $800 million in small business recovery grants will be available to New Yorkers impacted by Covid-19. The rental assistance program will prioritize the unemployed, those with income at or below 50% of the area median income, and other vulnerable populations for the first 30 days and then be open to other applicants so long as funds remain available. 

    State Issues Covid-19 New York Mortgages Small Business

  • California announces additional small business grants as part of its broader California Comeback Plan

    State Issues

    On May 13, California’s Governor Gavin Newsom announced a new small business relief program, consisting of both business grants and tax credits, as a part of the broader “California Comeback Plan.”  The program adds an additional $1.5 billion in grants to the already announced $2.5 billion, and provides $6.2 billion in tax credits available to small businesses.

    State Issues Covid-19 California Small Business

  • New York governor signs bill setting forth eviction and foreclosure protections for small businesses

    State Issues

    On March 9, the New York governor signed the COVID-19 Emergency Protect Our Small Businesses Act of 2021 (S471A/A3207), which sets forth eviction and foreclosure protections for small businesses. Among other things, the act prohibits removal of a commercial tenant prior to May 1, 2021, except by eviction proceedings.  The act also prohibits the initiation of eviction proceedings until May 1, 2021 and stays pending eviction proceedings for a certain period of time depending on whether an eviction warrant or judgment of possession or ejectment has been issued. The act further requires landlords to provide certain pre-eviction notices. The press release notes that the act builds on prior state moratoriums on residential and commercial evictions.

    State Issues Covid-19 New York Mortgages Evictions Foreclosure Small Business

  • Virginia governor announces expansion of grant program for small businesses, nonprofits

    State Issues

    On September 21, the Virginia governor announced the expansion of the Rebuild VA, the $70 million economic recovery fund for small businesses and nonprofits impacted by Covid-19. As a result of the expanded eligibility requirements, businesses that received funding from the federal CARES Act and supply chain partners of businesses whose normal operations were impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic will be eligible to receive grants of up to $10,000. The Rebuild VA funding may be used for, among other things, payroll support, employee salaries, and mortgage payments, rent, and utilities. The announcement provides additional information regarding eligibility for the grants.

    State Issues Covid-19 Virginia Small Business CARES Act Mortgages

  • Maine governor launches grant program for small businesses and nonprofits

    State Issues

    On August 20, the Maine governor launched a $200 million economic grant program to assist Maine small businesses and nonprofits. To qualify for a grant, a business or nonprofit must demonstrate financial relief need due to Covid-19 impacts or a related public health response. Additionally, the business or organization must meet eligibility requirements, including having “significant operations” in Maine and being current and in good standing with certain tax filings through July 31, 2020. Grants may be used to cover expenses including, payroll costs and expenses, rent or mortgage payments for business facilities, and utilities payments. The application period begins on August 21, 2020, and runs through September 2, 2020. Awards will be made in early October. Additional information about the program can be found on the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development’s website.

    State Issues Covid-19 Maine Small Business Mortgages

  • Alaska governor proposes expanded eligibility for small business funding

    State Issues

    On August 20, the Alaska governor announced that he proposed modifications to the AK CARES Grant Program to expand eligibility for applicants. The program provides funding for Alaska small businesses. Under the current program, applicants are restricted from applying if they received more than $5,000 in other federal assistance or if the business is a source of secondary income. The changes would lift the $5,000 restriction and restriction on secondary income businesses. Restrictions requiring that businesses be Alaska-based or have no more than 50 employees remain in place, but may be subject to review in the future. Absent earlier action, these changes will take effect in 45 days.

    State Issues Covid-19 Alaska Small Business

  • Pennsylvania governor announces disbursal of small business grants, opening of second funding round

    State Issues

    On August 10, the Pennsylvania governor announced that $96 million in state grants have been awarded to small businesses impacted by Covid-19 through the Covid-19 Relief Statewide Small Business Assistance fund. The announcement notes that the second and final round of funding has opened and will run through August 28. Eligible applicants that did not receive funding in the first round do not need to reapply and will be considered in the second round. The grants may be used to cover operating expenses during the shutdown and transition to re-opening, including for technical assistance and training related to the stabilization and reopening of businesses.

    State Issues Covid-19 Pennsylvania Small Business Lending Small Business


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