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On June 30, NYDFS issued two industry letters aimed at reminding New York regulated banking institutions of their responsibilities under New York State’s Community Reinvestment Act (NYCRA) with respect to minority-and women-owned businesses, as well as opportunities to receive NYCRA credit for Covid-19 pandemic activities.
The first industry letter discusses the state’s recent amendments to the NYCRA, which were effective January 11, 2020, and require NYDFS to consider “several aspects of banking institutions’ activities with respect to minority- and women-owned businesses.” These include, among other things, (i) “‘the banking institution’s participation, including investments, … in technical assistance programs for small businesses and minority- and women-owned businesses’”; and (ii) “‘banking institution’s origination of … minority-_and women-owned business loans within its community or the purchase of such loans originated in its community.’” NYDFS notes that later this year, it will begin to request information regarding programs related to minority- and women-owned businesses in order to begin evaluating banks under the new amendments. NYDFS also provided a spreadsheet with sample requests for guidance.
The second industry letter describes the circumstances in which regulated institutions may receive NYCRA credit for activities taken in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, which the announcement notes is consistent with the guidance federal regulators have issued on the same topic (covered by InfoBytes here and here).
On June 23, the New York attorney general announced a $3.6 million proposed settlement with a debt relief operation for allegedly making exaggerated advertisements in violation of a 2011 consent order with the state. According to the press release, the 2011 consent order was based on allegations that the company engaged in “illegal, fraudulent, and deceptive practices” related to advertising. The 2011 consent order permitted the company to advertise certain savings if those savings were achieved by a defined group of New York consumers and if the company “clearly disclosed which consumers were in that group and what approximate percentage of the whole group of New York consumers the defined group represented.” However, the attorney general alleges the company failed to follow this requirement and continued to advertise consumer savings without disclosing the details of the group who achieved the savings, noting that “the majority of New York consumers achieved less than half of the savings [the company] advertised.”
In addition to the $3.6 million in restitution for the New York consumers, the proposed settlement reinforces the 2011 consent order’s injunctive provisions and requires the company to (i) acknowledge that certain high savings numbers are not typical by “[e]xpressly stating the percentage of consumers who achieve the high end range of savings claims”; and (ii) ensure that future savings claims are based on consumers’ total debt with the company’s program.
New York Department of Financial Services announces remote online testing for insurance licensing exams
On June 11, the New York Department of Financial Services announced that remote online proctored testing will be available beginning on June 15, 2020, for all 28 New York insurance licensing exams. As a result, candidates will be able to take exams at a testing center or from their home or office.
On June 17, the New York State Department of Financial Services issued guidance to state-regulated financial institutions, urging them to support consumers that have been negatively impacted by Covid-19. The department urged furnishers of credit information to, among other things, report accommodations reached under the CARES Act as “current,” unless the credit was delinquent prior to the accommodation; report certain Covid-19 related delinquencies as forborne, deferred, or affected by a natural or declared disaster consistent with the furnisher’s treatment of the account; and promptly conduct reasonable investigations of consumer-disputed credit information.
On June 17, the New York State Department of Financial Services issued guidance to state-regulated consumer credit reporting agencies regarding support for New York consumers impacted by Covid-19. The guidance indicates that all state-regulated consumer credit reporting agencies have agreed to take a number of steps to mitigate consumer harm, including permitting consumers at least one free credit report per month for six months, reminding furnishers of information of the appropriate manner to report accommodations reached pursuant to the CARES Act, and posting on their website a link to a page dedicated to Covid-19 information and updates.
On June 17, New York Senate Bill 8243, which relates to the forbearance of residential mortgage payments, was signed into law. Specifically, SB 8243 requires New York regulated institutions to: (1) make applications for forbearance of any payment due on a residential mortgage on property located in New York “widely available to any qualified mortgagor who, during the covered period, is in arrears or on a trial period plan, or who has applied for loss mitigation and demonstrates financial hardship during the covered period;” and (2) grant such forbearance for a period of 180 days to any such qualified mortgagor with an option to extend an additional 180 days. Such forbearances may be backdated to March 7, 2020. SB 8243 also sets forth certain requirements for the mortgage forbearances granted under the law, which includes limitations on credit reporting and charging interest and late fees. The law also provides that adhering to SB 8243 will be a condition precedent to commencing a foreclosure action resulting from a missed payment, which would have otherwise been subject to the law. However, SB 8243 does not apply to, or affect mortgage loans made, insured, or secured by a United States agency or instrumentality, a government sponsored enterprise, or a federal home loan, or the rights and obligations of any lender, issuer, servicer or trustee of such obligations, including servicers for the Government National Mortgage Association.
On the same day, New York Senate Bill 8428, which also relates to the forbearance of residential mortgage loans, was signed into the law. The requirements in SB 8428 are similar to the requirements set forth in SB 8243, except that SB 8428 clarify certain areas of the law including the types of properties subject to the Law, who may receive a forbearance, and when a forbearance extension is warranted. SB 8428 also clarifies that the obligation to grant the forbearance relief required is subject to the regulated institution having sufficient capital and liquidity to meet its obligations and to operate in a safe and sound manner. To the extent a regulated institution determines it is unable to offer relief, it must alert the Department of Financial Institutions within five days of making such a determination.
On June 11, the New York Superintendent of Financial Services issued an order extending the deadline for servicers to meet certain obligations under the updated Servicing Mortgage Loans: Business Conduct Rules (N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit. 3, § 419 et seq.). Specifically, for servicers unable to provide a periodic statement that is compliant with the revised regulations, the order extends the compliance date for a period of 60 days from June 15 to August 14 (extension period). Servicers that cannot comply by June 15 must provide a notice on their website advising consumers that they will be entitled to receive the periodic statement on or shortly after August 14. However, the order notes that servicers that are able to comply with the periodic statement requirements by June 15 should do so as required. The order does not relieve servicers from any obligation to issue a periodic statement under TILA or from ensuring that borrowers receive an accurate accounting of their mortgage loan during the extension eriod.
New York has announced the creation of the New York Forward Loan Fund (NYFLF), a new state-based loan program to support small businesses, nonprofits, and small landlords (buildings with 50 units or less) in New York as they reopen from Covid-19-related shutdowns. The NYFLF is intended to provide working capital for upfront expenses related to complying with operational guidelines, such as inventory, marketing, and refitting for new social distancing guidelines. The loans will be available to individuals who did not receive a loan from either the U.S. Small Business Administration Paycheck Protection Program or the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans for Covid-19 in 2020. The NYFLF loans are interest bearing, are not forgivable, and must be repaid over a five-year term. Pre-applications for the program are being accepted.
On May 21, the New York Department of Financial Services issued an advisory to New York regulated financial institutions warning of the increased risk of medical scams relating to Covid-19. The advisory incorporates recent red flag indicators for such scams identified by FinCEN (previously covered here).
The New York Department of Financial Services has updated its resource page providing information for consumers and small businesses relating to Covid-19. The resource page provides information on, among other things, deferrals of insurance premium payments, the federal CARES Act legislation, and essential businesses guidance and FAQs.
- Jeffrey P. Naimon to discuss "Post-pandemic CFPB exam preparation" at the Mortgage Bankers Association Spring Conference & Expo
- Jonice Gray Tucker to discuss "Making fair lending work for you" at the Mortgage Bankers Association Spring Conference & Expo
- Jonice Gray Tucker to discuss "Reading the tea leaves of President Biden’s initial financial appointees" at LendIt Fintech
- APPROVED Webcast: Staying in the know with Buckley regtech solutions
- Moorari K. Shah to discuss “CA, NY, federal licensing and disclosure” at the Equipment Leasing & Finance Association Legal Forum
- Jonice Gray Tucker to discuss "Compliance under Biden" at the WSJ Risk & Compliance Forum
- Sherry-Maria Safchuk to discuss UDAAP at an American Bar Association webinar
- Jeffrey P. Naimon to discuss "What to expect: The new administration and regulatory changes" at the Mortgage Bankers Association Legal Issues and Regulatory Compliance Conference
- Jonice Gray Tucker to discuss “The future of fair lending” at the Mortgage Bankers Association Legal Issues and Regulatory Compliance Conference
- Steven R. vonBerg to discuss "LO comp challenges" at the Mortgage Bankers Association Legal Issues and Regulatory Compliance Conference
- Michelle L. Rogers to discuss "Major litigation" at the Mortgage Bankers Association Legal Issues and Regulatory Compliance Conference
- Michelle L. Rogers to discuss “The False Claims Act today” at the Federal Bar Association Qui Tam Section Roundtable