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On May 31, the CFPB released FAQs to assist with TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure Rule (TRID) compliance. The two new FAQs relate to the application of TRID to construction loans. Highlights include:
- Most construction-only and construction-permanent loans are covered by TRID as long as such a loan: (i) is made by a creditor as defined in Regulation Z; (ii) is a closed-end, consumer credit transaction; (iii) is secured in full or in part by real property or cooperative unit; (iii) is not a reverse mortgage; and (iv) is not exempt for any reason under Regulation Z.
- There are three special disclosure provisions for construction-only or construction-permanent loans under TRID: (i) Section 1026.17(c)(6) permits a creditor to issue separate or combined disclosures for construction-permanent loans based on whether each phase is treated as a separate transaction; (ii) Appendix D provides methods that may be used for estimating construction phase financing disclosures; and (iii) Section 1026.19(e)(3)(iv)(F) permits creditors, in certain instances involving new construction, to use a revised estimate of a charge for good faith tolerance purposes when settlement will occur more than 60 days after the original Loan Estimate. The Bureau notes that these provisions apply “even if the creditor does not necessarily label the product as construction-only or construction-permanent, so long as the product meets the requirements discussed in each provision.”
New York legislature introduces bills to protect small businesses, regulate merchant cash advance transactions
On May 1, S5470 was introduced in the New York State Senate and is now sitting with the Committee on Banks, which would establish consumer-style disclosure requirements for certain commercial transactions. Similar to the legislation enacted in California last September, previously covered in InfoBytes here, the bill requires financing entities subject to the law to disclose in each commercial financing transaction “the total cost of the financing, expressed as a dollar cost, including any and all fees, expenses and charges that are to be paid by the recipient and that cannot be avoided by the recipient, including any interest expense.” For open and closed-end commercial financing transactions, the bill requires that the disclosures must include, among other things, (i) the amount financed or the maximum credit line; (ii) the total cost of the financing; (iii) the annual percentage rate; (iv) payment amounts; (v) a description of all other potential fees and charges; and (vi) prepayment charges. The bill sets out analogous, but separate, disclosure requirements for accounts receivable purchase transactions, such as merchant cash advance and factoring transactions.
Importantly, the bill does not apply to (i) financial institutions (defined as a chartered or licensed bank, trust company, industrial loan company, savings and loan association, or federal credit union, authorized to do business in New York); (ii) lenders regulated under the federal Farm Credit Act; (iii) commercial financing transactions secured by real property; (iv) a technology service provider; and (v) a lender who makes no more than one applicable transaction in New York in a 12-month period or any person that makes commercial financing transactions in New York that are incidental to the lender’s business in a 12-month period.
Additionally, the New York legislature is also considering a number of other bills that would affect commercial financing transactions:
- A03637, would amend the state’s banking law to deem asset-based lending transactions (defined as, “a transaction in which advances are made which are contingent on the recipient forwarding payments received from one or more third parties for goods such recipient has supplied or services such recipient has rendered to that third party or parties.”) to be loans for all purposes. On its face, this legislation would subject typical merchant cash advance and factoring transactions, which New York courts have in many recent court cases deemed to be non-loan transactions, to lending law restrictions, which would include potential licensure requirements and usury restrictions.
- A03636, would amend the state’s business law to prohibit the inclusion of a confession of judgment (COJ) in a contract or agreement for a financial product or service provided by an entity regulated by the New York Department of Financial Services for the purpose of consumer or investor protection, which is specifically defined by the bill as: (i) any product or service for which registration or licensing is required or for which the offeror or provider is required to be registered or licensed by state law; (ii) any product or service as to which provisions for consumer or investor protection are specifically set forth for such product or service by state statute or regulation; and (iii) securities, commodities and real property subject to the provisions of article 23A of the general business law. COJs are contractual clauses in which a debtor waives in advance his or her right to be notified of a court hearing, or to present his or her side of the case, which are prohibited under federal law for consumer contracts by the FTC Credit Practices Rule (16 C.F.R. pt. 444). In conjunction with potential licensure required under AO3637 above, the passage of both pieces of legislation in New York could result in the prohibition of COJ clauses in merchant cash advance agreements, a common feature of such agreements and generally permitted under New York law.
- A03638, would extend the majority of the state’s consumer protections with respect to loans made to small businesses (defined by the bill as, a “small business shall be deemed to be one which is resident in this state, independently owned and operated, not dominant in its field and employs one hundred or less persons.”). Specifically, the bill would amend the state’s general obligations law to extend all rights and privileges granted under the title to small businesses and would also amend Section 173 and Section 380-e of the state’s banking law to extend all the rights and privileges granted by the section to small businesses.
Relatedly, the FTC recently held a forum on small business marketplace lending practices, see detailed InfoBytes coverage on the forum here.
On March 18, the FDIC published a final rule to rescind and remove 12 CFR Part 350, Disclosure of Financial and Other Information By FDIC-Insured State Nonmember Banks. Effective April 17, all insured state nonmember banks and insured state-licensed branches of foreign banks will no longer be subject to the annual disclosure statement requirement set out in the existing regulations. The FDIC’s rescission and removal is an attempt by the FDIC to simplify its regulations and “remov[e] unnecessary or redundant regulations.” The FDIC concluded that Part 350 is “outdated and no longer necessary” because information technology advancements now provide the public with direct access to information on the condition and performance of individual banks.
On January 25, the CFPB released FAQs to assist with TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure Rule (TRID) compliance. Three of the four FAQs relate to corrected closing disclosures and the three business-day waiting period, while the fourth FAQ relates to the use of model forms. Highlights of the FAQs include:
- Under TRID, a creditor must ensure that a consumer received a corrected Closing Disclosure at least three business days before consummation of the transaction (i) for certain APR changes; (ii) if the loan product information changes; or (iii) if a prepayment penalty has been added to the loan. Any of these changes would trigger a new three business-day waiting period.
- A corrected Closing Disclosure is required under TRID if the APR changes, including if it decreases. If the change in the APR is within applicable tolerances under Regulation Z, the creditor may provide the new Closing Disclosure without triggering a new three business-day waiting period. If the change in the APR is outside applicable tolerances, the creditor must wait three business days before consummation.
- Section 109(a) of the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act did not change the timing for consummating transactions if a creditor is required to provide a corrected Closing Disclosure under TRID.
- A creditor is deemed in compliance with the disclosure requirements of TRID if it uses the appropriate model forms provided by the Bureau and properly completes them with accurate content.
On February 4, the CFPB released a request for public comment on a new information collection titled, “Debt Collection Quantitative Disclosure Testing.” The proposed collection—which seeks Office of Management and Budget approval to conduct a web survey as part of the Bureau's debt collection disclosure research—“will explore consumer comprehension and decision making in response to debt collection disclosure forms.” Comments must be received by March 6.
On January 29, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit held that the defendant employer violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act’s (FCRA) standalone document requirement when it included extraneous state disclosure requirements within a disclosure to obtain a consumer report on the plaintiff, a prospective employee. The panel also concluded that the defendant’s form failed to satisfy both the FCRA and the California Investigative Consumer Reporting Agencies Act’s (ICRAA) “‘clear and conspicuous’ requirements because, although the disclosure was conspicuous, it was not clear.” According to the opinion, the plaintiff signed a “Disclosure Regarding Background Investigation,” and was employed for several months before voluntarily terminating her employment. Following her departure from the company, the plaintiff filed a putative class action against the defendant, alleging a failure to make proper disclosure under the FCRA and the ICRAA. The plaintiff claimed that the disclosure form included not only a disclosure as required by the FCRA stating that the defendant could obtain a consumer report on her, but also additional disclosure requirements for several other states.
The district court initially granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment as to the FCRA and as to ICRAA’s clear and conspicuous requirement, holding that the disclosure form complied with both statutes. On appeal, the 9th Circuit first rejected the plaintiff’s assertion that the disclosure form violated the standalone document requirements because it included all the application materials she filled out during the employment process. The panel declined to extend this principle to the FCRA’s definition of a “document,” stating that the employment packet was distinct from the disclosure form. However, the 9th Circuit cited to its 2017 decision in Syed v. M-I, LLC, which held that “‘a prospective employer violates Section 1681b(b)(2)(A) when it procures a job applicant’s consumer report after including a liability waiver in the same document as the statutorily mandated disclosure.’” Noting the statute’s plain language, the 9th Circuit concluded in Syed that the FCRA meant what it said—“the required disclosure must be in a document that ‘consist[s] ‘solely’ of the disclosure.’” Moreover, the panel stated that Syed considered the standalone requirement with regard to any surplusage, and that the “FCRA should not be read to have implied exceptions, especially when the exception—in that case, a liability waiver—was contrary to FCRA’s purpose.”
The 9th Circuit also concluded that the district court erred in holding that the disclosure form was clear because the form (i) contained language a reasonable person would not understand, and (ii) the language combined federal and state disclosures, which would confuse a reasonable reader. However, the panel held that the disclosure form met the conspicuous requirement since the defendant capitalized, bolded, and underlined the headings for each section of the disclosure and labeled the form so an applicant could see what she was signing. Accordingly, the 9th Circuit affirmed in part and vacated in part the district court’s decision, and remanded the case for further proceedings.
On January 22, the Florida Attorney General announced a settlement with a car rental automotive group resolving allegations the company did not adequately disclose add-on fees for cashless tolls and other related add-on charges. According to the settlement, the Attorney General launched an investigation after receiving consumer complaints alleging the company did not clearly disclose that consumers would be charged $15 per cashless toll, in addition to the actual toll fees. Additionally, consumers who opted into an add-on product that would allow them to go through cashless tolls without penalty alleged the company misled them regarding that product’s fees. The settlement requires the company to (i) clearly and conspicuously disclose all fees regarding cashless tolls or associated products within written agreements; (ii) provide clear disclosures regarding fees on their website, online reservation system, confirmation emails and at the rental counters; (iii) refund fees paid for tolls or the associated add-on product to consumers who were charged between January 1, 2011 and January 7, 2019, and who submit claim forms; and (iv) provide accurate disclosures on damage waivers. The settlement also prohibits the company from charging consumers for a higher car class when the car class reserved by a consumer is unavailable.
On December 21, the CFPB announced final policy guidance covering the loan-level HMDA data the Bureau intends to make publicly available in 2019. The proposed policy was issued in September 2017 (covered by InfoBytes here) and, after reviewing public comments, the Bureau agreed to modify certain data disclosures to address concerns regarding consumers’ privacy. The final policy now excludes from public disclosure (i) the loan identifier; (ii) application and action taken dates; (iii) the property address; (iv) the applicants’ credit scores; (v) the mortgage originator’s NMLS identifier; and (vi) the results generated by the automated underwriting system. The Bureau will also exclude free-form text fields which report data such as the applicant’s race or ethnicity. The Bureau further announced that it will publish data for (i) the applicants’ ages; (ii) the loan amount; and (iii) the number of units in the dwelling as ranges rather than specific values.
The announcement states that the Bureau intends to initiate in a separate notice-and-comment rulemaking in 2019 to incorporate any modifications of HMDA data into the text of Regulation C and will use the rulemaking to consider what HMDA data will be disclosed in future years. Additionally, the CFPB reiterated its intention to engage in a rulemaking to reconsider aspects of the 2015 HMDA rule, which was originally announced in December 2017 (covered by InfoBytes here).
On December 19, the Illinois governor signed HB 5542, which amends the state’s Residential Mortgage License Act of 1987 (the Act) to make various changes to state licensing requirements. Among other things, the amended Act (i) clarifies the definition of a “bona fide nonprofit organization”; (ii) provides a list of prohibited acts and practices; (iii) stipulates that a licensee filing a Mortgage Call Report is not required to file an annual report with the Secretary of Financial and Professional Regulation (Secretary) disclosing applicable annual activities; (iv) repeals a provision requiring the Secretary to obtain loan delinquency data from HUD as part of an examination of each licensee; (v) clarifies that the notice of change in loan terms disclosure requirements do not apply to any licensee providing notices of changes in loan terms pursuant to the CFPB’s Know Before You Owe mortgage disclosure procedure under TILA and RESPA, while removing the provision that previously excluded licensees limited to soliciting residential mortgage loan applications as approved by the Secretary from the requirements to provide disclosure of changes in loan terms; (vi) removes certain criteria concerning the operability date for submitting licensing information to the Nationwide Multistate Licensing System; and (vii) makes other technical and conforming changes. The amendments are effective immediately.
On December 4, the California Department of Business Oversight (DBO) released an invitation for comments from interested stakeholders in the development of regulations to implement the state’s new law on commercial financing disclosures. As previously covered by InfoBytes, on September 30, 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 act requires the DBO to first develop regulations governing the new disclosure requirements, addressing, among other things, (i) definitions, contents, and methods of calculations for each disclosure; (ii) requirements concerning the time, manner, and format of each disclosure; and (iii) the method to express the annualized rate disclosure and types of fees and charges to be included in the calculation. While the DBO has formulated specific topics and questions in the invitation for comments covering these areas, the comments may address any potential area for rulemaking. Comments must be received by January 22, 2019.
- APPROVED Webcast: Introducing Mogy — APPROVED’s licensing technology solution
- 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 "Mid-year policy update" at the ACAMS AML Risk Management 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
- Christopher M. Witeck and Moorari K. Shah to discuss "The latest in vendor management regulations" at a Mortgage Bankers Association webinar
- Buckley Webcast: Hot topics in debt collection — An analysis of recent federal FDCPA litigation
- Jonice Gray Tucker to discuss "How to succeed in law school" at the SEO Law DC Panel Discussions
- 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
- Brandy A. Hood to discuss "RESPA Section 8/referrals: How do you stay compliant?" at the New England Mortgage Bankers Conference
- 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