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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations


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  • New York State enhances the consumer notification obligations on automatic renewals

    State Issues

    Recently, the State of New York enacted SB 5941-B (the “Act”), which revises the general business law, focusing on the obligation of businesses to inform consumers about an impending automatic renewal or continuous service charge at least forty-five days before the charge is applied. The amendment states that in the case of a business allowing a consumer to accept an automatic renewal of six months or more, the business is required to notify the consumer about the upcoming automatic renewal or continuous service charge at least fifteen days, but not more than forty-five days, before the cancellation deadline for such automatic renewal. The notice must also include instructions on how the consumer can cancel the renewal charge. The new amendment does not apply to any business, or its subsidiary or affiliate, subject to regulation by the NY Department of Public Service or the FCC. The bill became effective upon enactment.

    State Issues Consumer Protection Auto-Renewal State Legislation

  • New York Governor highlights NYDFS in 2024 State of the State proposal

    State Issues

    On January 2, New York Governor Kathy Hochul revealed a proposed plan focused on consumer protection and affordability as the initial part of the Governor’s 2024 State of the State address. The plan includes changes to New York’s consumer protection laws, regulations for buy now pay later products, increased paid medical and disability leave benefits, measures to eliminate co-pays for insulin in specific insurance plans, and legislation addressing medical debt.

    Changes to consumer protection laws would give the Attorney General more power to enforce the laws and help the state to address unfair and abusive business practices. Additionally, proposed legislation would require buy now pay later providers to obtain licenses and introduce regulations focusing on disclosure, dispute resolution, credit standards, fee limits, data privacy, and preventing excessive debt.

    NYDFS also detailed Governor Hochul’s plan to update and broaden New York’s hospital financial assistance law to provide increased protection against medical debt. The proposed legislation aims to limit hospitals’ ability to sue low-income patients (earning less than 400 percent of the Federal Poverty Level) for medical debt and expand financial assistance programs. It also seeks to cap monthly payments and interest rates on medical debt while enhancing access to financial aid. This consumer protection and affordability plan builds on Governor Hochul and her administration’s efforts to make New York more affordable and livable.

    State Issues NYDFS New York Consumer Protection Medical Debt Consumer Finance Buy Now Pay Later Unfair

  • CFPB, DOJ sue developer over predatory lending

    Federal Issues

    On December 20, the CFPB and the DOJ issued a press release announcing the filing of a complaint against four affiliated Texas-based entities (collectively, the “developer”) alleging bait-and-switch land sales and predatory financing. The agencies claim the developer violated ECOA and FHA by targeting thousands of Spanish-speaking borrowers with predatory seller financing. The complaint also alleges the developer misrepresented or omitted material information regarding the seller-financed flood-prone lots having “the infrastructure necessary to connect water, sewer, and electrical services pre-installed,” and regarding flood risk. The complaint also claims that the developer did not provide purchasers with a property report before the purchaser entered into the subject agreement. Further, according to the complaint, the developer marketed the lots primarily in Spanish, but required borrowers to sign important transactional documents written in English only. The action also includes claims brought under other laws and regulations. Notably, this is the first federal court lawsuit the CFPB has brought under the Interstate Land Sales Full Disclosure Act of 1968 (ILSA).

    Federal Issues DOJ CFPB Consumer Finance Consumer Protection Texas Enforcement

  • CFPB report analyzes college banking and credit card agreements

    Federal Issues

    On December 19, the CFPB released a report titled College Banking and Credit Card Agreements: Annual Report to Congress, which found that some college-sponsored financial products marketed towards students have less advantageous terms and conditions, and higher fees compared to typical market products.

    According to the report, when colleges decided to subcontract with third-party financial service providers to facilitate the application of federal financial aid, they entered “college banking agreements” offering deposit accounts for students, which can function as debit or prepaid cards. The report distinguished between colleges that pay for certain service providers to facilitate the processing of federal financial aid disbursements (referred to as Tier One college banking arrangements), and colleges that are paid by certain service providers to offer deposit accounts and prepaid cards to the student population (referred to as Tier Two college banking arrangements). Tier Two account issuers paid colleges an aggregated of over $19.6 million in 2022. The CFPB observed that some colleges’ financial product partners charge students overdraft fees, despite the general industry trend to move away from such fees.  The CFPB also warned in its report that certain overdraft fees can violate the CFPA.

    The report also found that students at HBCUs and Hispanic-servicing institutions on average pay higher fees per account. The CFPB also noted several other additional fees charged to students by financial institutions, including (i) dormant account fees; (ii) deposit and withdrawal fees for student ID cards that also function as prepaid cards; and (iii) “sunset” fees imposed on students to pay after graduation or reaching a certain age.

    Regarding partnerships in credit cards, the CFPB noted that although the passage of the CARD Act reduced the profitability of marketing credit cards on college campuses, thousands of new accounts between colleges and credit card issuers are opened every year. The CFPB also noted that college students maintain a high level of reliance on credit cards to cover costs and it indicated that it “will continue to research evolving practices” to understand how credit cards are being marketed to college students.

    Federal Issues CFPB Consumer Protection CARD Act Congress

  • FTC report details key takeaways from AI and creative fields panel discussion

    Federal Issues

    On December 18, the FTC released a report highlighting key takeaways from its October panel discussion on generative artificial intelligence (AI) and “creative industries.” As previously covered by InfoBytes, the FTC hosted a virtual roundtable to hear directly from creators on how generative AI is affecting their work and livelihood given the FTC’s interest in understanding how AI tools impact competition and business practices. The report presents a summary of insights gathered during the roundtable and explains the FTC’s particular jurisdictional interest in regulating AI. The report explains that the FTC has brought several recent enforcement actions relating to AI and how the use of AI can potentially violate Section 5 of the FTC Act, which “prohibits unfair or deceptive acts or practices and unfair methods of competition.” Additionally, the report mentioned how President Biden’s recent Executive Order on the Safe, Secure and Trustworthy Development and Use of AI (covered by InfoBytes here), encourages the FTC to leverage its existing faculties to protect consumers from harms caused by AI and to ensure competition in the marketplace.  The FTC’s report explains that it is appropriately taking such actions, both through enforcement actions and by gathering information. The Commission additionally stipulated that training generative AI on “protected expression” made by a creator without the creator’s consent or the sale of that generated output could constitute an unfair method of competition or an unfair or deceptive practice. The FTC added that this may be amplified by actions that involve deceiving consumers, improperly using a creator’s reputation, reducing the value of a creator’s work, exposing private information, or otherwise causing substantial injury to consumers. The Commission further warned that “conduct that may be consistent with other bodies of law nevertheless may violate Section 5.”

    Federal Issues FTC Artificial Intelligence Competition Consumer Protection FTC Act Unfair

  • DOJ announces crackdown on fraud networks targeting consumer accounts

    Financial Crimes

    On December 15, in conjunction with the DOJ’s Consumer Protection Branch efforts to crack down on fraud, the DOJ unsealed two cases against groups that allegedly stole money from consumer accounts with financial institutions. According to the DOJ, the groups used “deceptive tactics” to cover the fraud, and in the two cases, the Department is seeking “temporary restraining orders and the appointment of receivers to stop defendants from dissipating assets.”

    The first case (in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida) involves a group that allegedly committed bank and wire fraud and stole millions from consumers and small businesses by repeatedly creating sham companies. According to the complaint, since at least 2017, the defendants operated fraud schemes disguised as legitimate online marketing service providers by fabricating websites, forging consumer authorizations for charges, and establishing a “customer service” call center to handle complaints. The defendants allegedly obtained bank account information from individuals and small businesses without permission and utilized payment processors to make unauthorized debits to accounts. The DOJ claims that, to carry out the fraud, the defendants used remotely created checks, which are created remotely by a payee using the account holder’s information but without their signature. The second case (in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California) bears many similarities to the first case, including the type of alleged fraud scheme. Both cases also involve the use of “microtransactions,” which are low-dollar fake transactions designed to artificially lower the apparent rate of return or rejected transactions. The defendants in the second case in particular allegedly gathered large deposits from their merchant clients and used those funds to initiate microtransactions that appeared as if they were payments for the merchants’ goods and services. Essentially, according to the Department’s complaint, the merchants paid themselves: the funds initially paid to the defendants were returned to the merchants as microtransactions, while the defendants allegedly collected a percentage of the transactions as service fees. 

    Financial Crimes DOJ Fraud Consumer Protection Enforcement

  • NY enacts the Fair Medical Debt Reporting Act

    State Issues

    On December 13, the New York governor signed into law S4907A, or the Fair Medical Debt Reporting Act (the “Act”), a medical debt credit reporting bill that will bar credit reporting agencies from directly or indirectly incorporating medical debt into consumer credit reports. The Act specifically prohibits hospitals, health care professionals, and ambulances from reporting medical debt to credit agencies. The Act defines medical debt as any amount owed or claimed by a consumer “related to the receipt of health care services, products, or devices provided to a person” by a hospital, health care professional, or ambulance service. Notably, obligations charged to a credit card are excluded from medical debts unless the card is specifically designated for health care expenses under an open-ended or closed-end plan. 

    State Issues State Legislation New York Medical Debt Credit Reporting Agency Credit Report Consumer Protection Consumer Finance

  • FTC to send refunds to service providers implicated in false claims enforcement action

    Federal Issues

    On November 28, the FTC announced it is sending more than $3 million in refunds to businesses from an enforcement action against a Colorado-based digital marketplace company. In 2022, the FTC filed an administrative complaint alleging, among other things, that the defendant made false, misleading, or unsubstantiated claims regarding the quality and source of the leads it was selling to service providers, such as general contractors and small lawn care businesses (covered by InfoBytes here). As a result of its January proposed order, FTC will disperse 110,372 refunds to eligible home service providers, and is sending out 91,273 claims forms to businesses that paid for one of defendant’s services.


    Federal Issues FTC Enforcement Consumer Protection

  • CFPB obtains stipulated judgment ordering student financing company to pay over $30 million in damages

    Federal Issues

    On November 20, the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware entered a stipulated judgment in favor of the CFPB and 11 other state enforcement agencies in connection with an adversary proceeding against a vocational training program. As previously covered by InfoBytes, the complaint alleged that the education firm (company) engaged in deceptive practices by misrepresenting its income share agreement as not a loan and not debt, and misleading borrowers into believing that no payments would need to be made until they received a job offer. According to the CFPB, the company trained consumers to become sales development representatives, an entry-level role that requires “little or no prior sales experience or training,” and made promises it could not deliver on, such as promising a “6-figure” career in software sales. The company also initially priced its services at $2,500 in 2018, and then increased it to $15,000 the following year without any value justification. The company would recoup its payment through income share agreements (ISA). The CFPB alleged multiple causes of action against the company, including violations of the CFPA, TILA, and the FDCPA, among others. The stipulated judgment includes orders requiring the company to refund student borrowers, cancel outstanding loans, and permanently shut down.

    Federal Issues CFPB Enforcement State Attorney General Consumer Protection CFPA TILA FDCPA Regulation Z

  • CFPB report on FDCPA highlights medical debt collection issues

    Federal Issues

    On November 16, the CFPB released its annual Fair Debt Collection Practices Act report, which highlighted challenges specific to medical debt collection. For example, 8,500 complaints were submitted in 2022 related to medical debt collection and described problems such as collectors billing for services never received, collecting the wrong amounts, miscommunication with insurance companies or financial assistance programs, or placing bills on credit reports without prior consumer contact. The report emphasized collectors may violate federal law when they pursue inaccurate medical bills and stressed the need for medical debt collectors to comply with the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the No Surprises Act, and the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

    The report also includes developments in state law regarding medical debt collection, including recent legislation in Colorado, New York, Maine, and Nevada. Additionally, the report contains sections related to supervision of debt collection activities, enforcement actions, education and outreach initiatives, rulemaking, and research and policy initiatives. 

    Federal Issues CFPB Medical Debt FDCPA Consumer Protection FCRA


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