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On July 7, the Financial Stability Board (FSB) released several reports addressing climate-related financial risks. The FSB Roadmap for Addressing Climate-Related Financial Risks noted that a growing number of international initiatives are underway that address financial risks resulting from climate change. “Effective risk management at the level of individual companies and financial market participants is a precondition for a resilient financial system,” the report stated, adding that the “interconnections between climate-related financial risks faced by different participants in the financial system reinforce the case for coordinated action.” Among other things, the FSB set out a roadmap that focuses on four interrelated areas: (i) firm-level disclosures that should be used as the basis for pricing and managing climate-related financial risks at the level of individual entities and market participants; (ii) consistent metrics and disclosure data that can “provide the raw material for the diagnosis of climate-related vulnerabilities”; (iii) an analysis of vulnerabilities to provide the groundwork for designing and applying regulatory and supervisory framework and tools; and (iv) the establishment of regulatory and supervisory practices and tools to allow authorities to effectively identify climate-related risks to financial stability. FSB also released the Report on Promoting Climate-Related Disclosures, following a survey of members which explored national and regional current or planned climate-related disclosures. FSB presented several high-level recommendations, including, among other things, that financial authorities use a framework based on recommendations from the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) across both non-financial corporates and financial institutions to propose a more consistent global approach. FSB issued another report entitled, The Availability of Data with Which to Monitor and Assess Climate-Related Risks to Financial Stability, that suggested various priorities to address climate-related data gaps “to improve the monitoring and assessment of climate-related risks to financial stability.”
Additionally, Federal Reserve Board Vice Chair for Supervision, Randal K. Quarles, spoke before the Venice International Conference on Climate Change on July 11, in which he discussed the work of the TCFD and stressed the importance of improving data quality and addressing data gaps, as well as ultimately establishing "a basis of comprehensive, consistent, and comparable data for global monitoring and assessing climate-related financial risks."
On June 17, President Biden signed S. 475 establishing June 19, Juneteenth, as a federal holiday. The “Juneteenth National Independence Day Act” amends 5 U.S.C. § 6103(a) which codifies the legal public holidays. Because June 19 falls on a Saturday this year, the holiday will be observed on Friday, June 18.
The establishment of a new federal holiday mere hours before the first observance of that holiday poses novel compliance challenges for the mortgage industry. Notably, both TRID and TILA rescission requirements have important timing standards that reference federal holidays.
Under TRID, the Loan Estimate must be provided to the consumer at least seven business days prior to consummation, and the Closing Disclosure must be provided to the consumer at least three business days prior to consummation. For purposes of these requirements, “business day” is defined as “all calendar days except Sundays and legal public holidays” as specified in 5 U.S.C. § 6103(a). As the holiday occurs on a Saturday this year, Saturday, June 19 is not a “business day” for purposes of calculating either the 7-business day waiting period after delivery of the Loan Estimate or the 3-business-day waiting period after delivery of the Closing Disclosure. Commentary to Regulation Z also states that, for purposes of rescission and the provision of mortgage disclosures, when a federal holiday falls on a Saturday but is observed on the preceding Friday, the observed holiday is a business day.
Accordingly, for purposes of providing the Loan Estimate at least seven business days prior to closing and the Closing Disclosure at least three business days prior to closing, lenders may not count Saturday, June 19, as a business day, but must count Friday, June 18, as a business day. Absent clarification from the CFPB, lenders are advised to push closings back one day where they were previously counting Saturday (June 19) as a business day. For example, if a Closing Disclosure was received by the consumer on Thursday, June 17, closing may not occur until Tuesday, June 22.
A rescission period expires on midnight on the third business day after closing and uses the same definition of business days, which is “all calendar days except Sundays and legal public holidays.” As such, Saturday, June 19 this year is not a “business day” for purposes of the 3-business day rescission period and lenders should ensure that consumers are provided an extra day where the rescission period encompasses June 19, and are made aware of that extension. This raises unique funding and Notice of Right to Cancel disclosure related questions, the answers to which may depend on individual facts and circumstances. Absent further guidance from the CFPB, creditors may wish to delay closing by one day for those transactions where the three-day Closing Disclosure period is relevant, as well as consider providing updated Notices of Right to Cancel with a new rescission period taking into account both the new public holiday and when such new notice is sent.
On June 18, CFPB acting Director Dave Uejio issued a statement recognizing that "some lenders did not have sufficient time after the Federal holiday declaration to consider whether and how to adjust closing timelines" and that "some lenders may delay closings to accommodate the reissuance of disclosures adjusted for the new Federal holiday." Uejio further noted that "TILA and TRID requirements generally protect creditors from liability for bona fide errors and permit redisclosure after closing to correct errors." He added that any guidance ultimately issued by the Bureau "would take into account the limited implementation period before the holiday and would be issued after consultation with the other FIRREA regulators and the Conference of State Bank Supervisors to ensure consistency of interpretation for all regulated entities."
On June 8, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued an order vacating its December 2018 judgment, reversing a district court’s award of equitable monetary relief following the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in FTC v. AMG Capital Management, and remanding the case to the district court for further proceedings consistent with the Supreme Court’s opinion. The decision impacts defendants—a Kansas-based operation and its owner—who were ordered in 2016 to pay an approximately $1.3 billion judgment for allegedly operating a deceptive payday lending scheme and violating Section 5(a) of the FTC Act by making false and misleading representations about loan costs and payments (covered by InfoBytes here). The 9th Circuit previously upheld the judgment (covered by InfoBytes here) by, among other things, rejecting the defendant owner’s challenge, which was based on an argument that the district court overestimated his “wrongful gain” and that the FTC Act only allows the court to issue injunctions. At the time, the 9th Circuit concluded that the defendant owner failed to provide evidence contradicting the wrongful gain calculation and that a district court may grant any ancillary relief under the FTC Act, including restitution. However, as previously covered by InfoBytes, the Supreme Court reversed the 9th Circuit and held that Section 13(b) of the FTC Act “does not authorize the Commission to seek, or a court to award, equitable monetary relief such as restitution or disgorgement.”
- The TRID Rule covers a loan if it: “[i] is made by a creditor as defined in § 1026.2(a)(17); [ii] is secured in full or in part by real property or a cooperative unit; [iii] is a closed-end, consumer credit (as defined in § 1026.2(a)(12)) transaction; [iv] is not exempt for any reason listed in § 1026.3; and [v] is not a reverse mortgage subject to § 1026.33.”
- Regulation Z exempts certain mortgage loans from the TRID disclosure requirements (i.e., providing the LE and CD) (the “Partial Exemption”). This exemption covers certain subordinate housing assistance loans. To qualify, “a transaction must meet all of the following criteria: [i] the transaction is secured by a subordinate-lien; [ii] the transaction is for the purpose of a down payment, closing costs, or other similar home buyer assistance, such as principal or interest subsidies; property rehabilitation assistance; energy efficiency assistance; or foreclosure avoidance or prevention; [iii] the credit contract provides that it does not require the payment of interest; [iv] the credit contract provides that repayment of the amount of credit extended is: forgiven either incrementally or in whole, deferred for at least 20 years after the transaction, or until the sale of the property, or until the property securing the transaction is no longer the consumer’s principal dwelling; [v] the total of costs payable by the consumer in connection with the transaction only include recording fees, transfer taxes, a bona fide and reasonable application fee, and a bona fide and reasonable fee for housing counseling services[;] the application fee and housing counseling services fee must be less than one percent of the loan amount; [and] [iv] the creditor provides either the Truth-in-Lending (TIL) disclosures or the Loan Estimate and Closing Disclosure[.] Regardless of which disclosures the creditor chooses to provide, the creditor must comply with all Regulation Z requirements pertaining to those disclosures.”
- The BUILD Act includes a partial statutory exemption from the TRID disclosure requirements for similar transactions. To qualify for the Partial Exemption from the TRID disclosure requirements under the BUILD Act, the loan must be a residential mortgage loan, offered at a 0 percent interest rate, have only bona fide and reasonable fees, and be primarily for charitable purposes and be made by an organization described in Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(3) and exempt from taxation under section 501(a) of that Code.
- If a housing assistance loan creditor opts for one of the partial exemptions under either the Regulation Z Partial Exemption or under the BUILD Act, they are excused from the requirement to provide the Loan Estimate and Closing Disclosure for that transaction. The Partial Exemption under Regulation Z does not excuse the creditor from providing certain other disclosures required by Regulation Z. If the creditor qualifies for the exemption under the BUILD Act, they have the option to provide the GFE, HUD-1 and Truth In Lending disclosures in lieu of the LE and CD at the creditor’s discretion.
On April 26, the CFPB announced presentations from the Bureau’s first two tech sprints—forums that gather “regulators, technologists, financial institutions, and subject matter experts from key stakeholders for several days to work together to develop innovative solutions to clearly-identified challenges”—as a means to encourage regulatory innovation and collaborate with stakeholders on solutions to regulatory compliance challenges. The first tech sprint, covering Adverse Action Notices, took place in October 2020, and focused on improving electronic distribution of these disclosures to assist consumers in making more informed financial choices. Participants were able to contribute in “developing innovations in the way lenders notify consumers of adverse credit actions.” The second tech sprint, covering the submission and publication of Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) data, took place in March 2021 and challenged participants to work with the Bureau on ways to innovate on how the Bureau receives and processes HMDA data. The second forum also focused on how to improve accessibility to the data to increase market transparency and drive better decision making, especially around issues of equity and inclusion.
On April 21, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit held that transmitting a consumer’s private data to a commercial mail vendor to generate debt collection letters violates Section 1692c(b) of the FDCPA because it is considered transmitting a consumer’s private data “in connection with the collection of any debt.” According to the opinion, the plaintiff’s medical debt was assigned to the defendant debt collector, who, in turn, hired a mail vendor to produce a dunning letter in the course of collecting the outstanding debt. In order to produce the letter, information about the plaintiff was allegedly electronically transmitted from the defendant to the mail vendor, including his status as a debtor, the exact balance of the debt, its origin, and other personal information. The plaintiff filed suit, claiming the disclosure of the information to the mail vendor violated the FDCPA’s third-party disclosure provisions, which the district court dismissed for failure to state a claim.
On appeal, the 11th Circuit reviewed whether a violation of § 1692c(b) gives rise to a concrete injury under Article III, and whether the defendant’s communication with the mail vendor was “in connection with the collection of any debt.” In reversing the district court’s ruling, the appellate court determined that communicating debt-related personal information with the third-party mail vendor is a concrete injury under Article IIII. Even though the plaintiff did not allege a tangible injury, the appellate court held, in a matter of first impression, that under the circumstances, the plaintiff alleged a communication “in connection with the collection of any debt” within the meaning of § 1692c(b). In choosing this interpretation over the defendant’s “‘industry practice argument,’” in which the defendant referred to the widespread use of mail vendors and the relative lack of FDCPA suits brought against debt collectors who use these vendors, the 11th Circuit recognized that its interpretation of the statute may require debt collectors to in-source many of the services previously outsourced to third-parties at a potentially great cost. “We recognize, as well, that those costs may not purchase much in the way of ‘real’ consumer privacy, as we doubt that the [mail vendors] of the world routinely read, care about, or abuse the information that debt collectors transmit to them,” the appellate court wrote, adding, “Even so, our obligation is to interpret the law as written, whether or not we think the resulting consequences are particularly sensible or desirable.”
CFPB appeals ruling vacating mandatory disclosures and 30-day credit linking restriction in Prepaid Accounts Rule
On March 1, the CFPB filed a notice to appeal a December 2020 ruling, in which the U.S. District Court for the District of D.C. vacated two provisions of the Bureau’s Prepaid Account Rule: (i) the short-form disclosure requirement “to the extent it provides mandatory disclosure clauses”; and (ii) the 30-day credit linking restriction. As previously covered by InfoBytes, the court concluded that the Bureau acted outside of its statutory authority by promulgating a short-form disclosure requirement (to the extent it provided for mandatory disclosure clauses). The court noted that it could not “presume—as the Bureau does—that Congress delegated power to the Bureau to issue mandatory disclosure clauses just because Congress did not specifically prohibit them from doing so.” The court further determined that the Bureau also read too much into its general rulemaking authority when it promulgated a mandatory 30-day credit linking restriction under 12 CFR section 1026.61(c)(1)(iii) that limited consumers’ ability to link certain credit cards to their prepaid accounts. The court first determined that neither TILA nor Dodd-Frank vest the Bureau with the authority to promulgate substantive regulations on when consumers can access and use credit linked to prepaid accounts. Second, the court deemed the regulatory provision to be a “substantive regulation banning a consumer’s access to and use of credit” under the disguise of a disclosure, and thus invalid.
On December 23, the New York governor signed S5470, which establishes consumer-style disclosure requirements for certain commercial transactions. For open and closed-end commercial financing transactions, the legislation requires that the disclosures 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. Violations are subject to a civil penalty no greater than $2,000 per violation. Notably, the legislation exempts (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) technology service providers; (v) lenders who make no more than five applicable transactions in New York in a 12-month period; and (vi) any individual commercial financing transaction over $500,000. The legislation is effective 180 days after enactment.
As previously covered by InfoBytes, California is currently finalizing proposed regulations implementing the requirements of the commercial financing disclosures required by SB 1235 (Chapter 1011, Statutes of 2018), which was enacted in September 2018. The California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation previously signaled its intent to finalize the regulations by January 2021.
On December 30, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia granted a payment company’s motion for summary judgment against the CFPB, vacating two provisions of the agency’s Prepaid Account Rule: (i) the short-form disclosure requirement “to the extent it provides mandatory disclosure clauses”; and (ii) the 30-day credit linking restriction. As previously covered by InfoBytes, the company filed a lawsuit against the Bureau alleging, among other things, that the Bureau’s Prepaid Account Rule exceeds the agency’s statutory authority “because Congress only authorized the Bureau to adopt model, optional disclosure clauses—not mandatory disclosure clauses like the short-form disclosure requirement.” The Bureau countered that it had authority to enforce the mandates under federal regulations, including the Electronic Fund Transfer Act (EFTA), TILA, and Dodd-Frank, arguing that the “EFTA and [Dodd-Frank] authorize the Bureau to issue—or at least do not foreclose it from issuing—rules mandating the form of a disclosure.” The Bureau also claimed that its general rulemaking power under either TILA or Dodd-Frank provides authority for the 30-day credit-linking restriction.
With respect to the mandatory disclosure clauses of the short-form requirement in 12 CFR section 1005.18(b), the court concluded, among other things, that the Bureau acted outside of its statutory authority. The court stated that “Congress underscored the need for flexibility by requiring the Bureau to ‘take account of variations in the services and charges under different electronic fund transfer systems’ and ‘issue alternative model clauses’ for different account terms where appropriate” and it could not “presume—as the Bureau does—that Congress delegated power to the Bureau to issue mandatory disclosure clauses just because Congress did not specifically prohibit them from doing so.”
In striking the mandatory 30-day credit linking restriction under 12 CFR section 1026.61(c)(1)(iii), the court determined that “the Bureau once again reads too much into its general rulemaking authority.” First, the court determined that neither TILA nor Dodd-Frank vest the Bureau with the authority to promulgate substantive regulations on when consumers can access and use credit linked to prepaid accounts. Second, the court deemed the regulatory provision to be a “substantive regulation banning a consumer’s access to and use of credit” under the disguise of a disclosure, and thus invalid.
On November 12, the CFPB published a notice and request for comment in the Federal Register detailing a plan for payday loan disclosure testing. The Bureau notes that a contractor will conduct one-on-one consumer interviews to evaluate potential options for payday loan disclosures. The interviews will focus on how consumers use the disclosure information to assess the cost, payment, and timing of the loan. The results of the testing, which are estimated to conclude in September 2021, will be used to inform a future potential rulemaking covering payday loan disclosures. Comments on the notice must be submitted by December 14.
- Jeffrey P. Naimon to provide “Fair lending update” at the Colorado Mortgage Lenders Association Operational and Compliance Forum
- Jonice Gray Tucker to discuss “Justice for all: Achieving racial equity through fair lending” at CBA Live
- Warren W. Traiger to discuss “On the horizon for CRA modernization” at CBA Live
- APPROVED Webcast: Strategy & Technology: A dynamic duo for successful regulatory exams
- Daniel R. Alonso to discuss “Primer on cross-border prosecutions in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico for U.S. criminal lawyers” at a New York City Bar Association webinar
- Jonice Gray Tucker to discuss "Fair lending" at the Mortgage Bankers Association Regulatory Compliance Conference
- Michelle L. Rogers to discuss “State law regulatory and enforcement trends” at the Mortgage Bankers Association Regulatory Compliance Conference
- Jonice Gray Tucker to discuss “Government investigations, and compliance 2021 trends” at the Corporate Counsel Women of Color Career Strategies Conference
- Max Bonici to discuss “BSA/AML trends: What to expect with the implementation of the AML Act of 2020” at the American Bar Association Banking Law Fall Meeting
- H Joshua Kotin to discuss “Modifications and exiting forbearance” at the National Association of Federal Credit Unions Regulatory Compliance Seminar
- Jonice Gray Tucker to discuss “Fintech trends” at the BIHC Network Elevating Black Excellence Regional Summit
- Jonice Gray Tucker to discuss "Consumer financial services" at the Practising Law Institute Banking Law Institute