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On August 15, the FDIC issued FIL-36-2023 to provide regulatory relief to financial institutions and help facilitate recovery in areas of Mississippi affected by severe storms, straight-line winds, and tornadoes from June 14 - June 19. The FDIC acknowledged the serious impact of the inclement weather faced by affected institutions and encouraged those institutions to work with impacted borrowers to adjust and alter terms on existing loans, provided the measures are done “in a manner consistent with sound banking practices.” Additionally, the FDIC noted that institutions “may receive favorable Community Reinvestment Act consideration for community development loans, investments, and services in support of disaster recovery.” The FDIC will also consider regulatory relief from certain filing and publishing requirements and instructed institutions to contact the Dallas Regional Office if they expect delays in making filings or are experiencing difficulties in complying with publishing or other requirements.
On April 5, the FDIC issued FIL-14-2023 to provide regulatory relief to financial institutions and help facilitate recovery in areas of Arkansas affected by severe storms and tornadoes on March 31. The FDIC acknowledged the unusual circumstances faced by institutions affected by the storms and encouraged institutions to work with impacted borrowers to, among other things: (i) extend repayment terms; (ii) restructure existing loans; or (iii) ease terms for new loans, provided the measures are done “in a manner consistent with sound banking practices.” Additionally, the FDIC noted that institutions “may receive favorable Community Reinvestment Act consideration for community development loans, investments, and services in support of disaster recovery.” The FDIC will also consider regulatory relief from certain filing and publishing requirements and instructs institutions to contact the Dallas Regional Office for consideration. Earlier, on March 30, the FDIC issued FIL-12-2023 to provide similar regulatory relief to financial institutions and help facilitate recovery in areas of Mississippi affected by severe storms, straight-line winds, and tornadoes on March 24 and 25.
On March 28, HUD announced disaster assistance for areas in Mississippi impacted by severe storms, straight-line winds, and tornadoes beginning March 24 to March 25. The disaster assistance follows President Biden’s major disaster declaration on March 26. According to the announcement, HUD is providing immediate foreclosure relief, making various FHA mortgage insurance available to disaster victims, and providing information on housing providers, as well as HUD-approved housing counseling agencies, among other measures. Specifically, HUD is providing an automatic 90-day moratorium on foreclosures of FHA-insured home mortgages for covered properties, as well as a 90-day extension granted automatically for home equity conversion mortgages, effective March 26. It is also making various FHA insurance options available to victims whose homes require repairs or were destroyed or severely damaged. HUD’s Section 203(h) program allows borrowers from participating FHA-approved lenders to obtain 100 percent financing, including closing costs, for homes that require “reconstruction or complete replacement.” HUD’s Section 203(k) loan program enables individuals to finance the repair of their existing homes or to include repair costs in the finance of a home purchase or a refinance of a home through a single mortgage. HUD is also allowing administrative flexibilities to community planning and development grantees, as well as to public housing agencies and Tribes.
On September 30, the FDIC released a list of administrative enforcement actions taken against banks and individuals in August. During the month, the FDIC made public seven orders consisting of “one consent order, one order terminating consent order, two orders of prohibition from further participation and three orders granting permission to file application and approving application for consent to participate in the conduct of the affairs of any insured depository institution.” Among the orders is a consent order imposed against a Mississippi-based bank by the FDIC and the Mississippi Department of Banking and Consumer Finance, which alleged that the bank engaged in unsafe or unsound banking practices or violations of law relating to the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA). While the bank consented to the action, it did so without admitting or denying any charges. Under the consent order, the bank must, among other things: (i) develop, adopt, and implement a written customer due diligence program; (ii) develop and establish a system of internal controls; and (iii) establish and maintain an independent testing program for compliance with the BSA and its implementing rules and regulations. The bank must also “conduct a lookback review all transactions of $3M or more starting with July 1, 2020, through February 28, 2022, to ensure all suspicious activity is identified, investigated and/or a SAR filed or a documented decision not to file is completed.”
Recently, the Mississippi governor signed HB 687, which establishes debt management services and licensing requirements. According to the bill, debt management service is defined as “[t]he receiving of money from a consumer for the purpose of distributing one or more payments to or among one or more creditors of the consumer in full or partial payment of the consumer's obligation,” among other things. A debt management service provider is “a person that provides or offers to provide to a consumer in this state any debt management services, in return for a fee or other consideration.” A debt management service provider does not include “[a]ny institution that is regulated, supervised or licensed by the department or any out-of-state institution that is insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or the National Credit Union Administration,” among other things. Additionally, one cannot operate as a debt management service provider with respect to consumers who are residents of this state without a license. The bill is effective July 1.
On July 21, the Mississippi attorney general announced a settlement with an auto finance company to resolve alleged violations of the Mississippi Consumer Protection Act. The AG claimed the auto finance company, among other things, allegedly placed consumers into loans with a high probability of default and engaged in aggressive collection practices. Under the terms of the settlement, the auto finance company will pay $3.7 million to the state, including $1.8 million in consumer restitution, and will stop collecting on loans allegedly extinguished under Mississippi law. Additionally, the auto finance company (i) will account for a borrower’s ability to pay and set a reasonable debt-to-income threshold; (ii) may not require dealers to sell any ancillary products; (iii) will “monitor dealers for possible inflation, power booking, or expense deflation”; (iv) may “not misrepresent a consumer’s prospect of redeeming a vehicle that has been repossessed”; (v) may not require borrowers to make payments through methods requiring additional third-party fees; and (vi) will notify all relevant credit reporting agencies that the borrowers’ debts have been extinguished.
On April 21, the FDIC issued FIL-47-2020 to provide regulatory relief to financial institutions and help facilitate recovery in areas of Mississippi affected by a recent series of severe weather. In the letter, the FDIC encourages institutions to consider, among other things, (i) extending repayment terms; (ii) restructuring existing loans; or (iii) easing terms for new loans to borrowers affected by the severe weather, provided the measures are “done in a manner consistent with sound banking practices, can contribute to the health of the local community and serve the long-term interests of the lending institution.” Additionally, the FDIC notes that institutions may receive Community Reinvestment Act consideration for community development loans, investments, and services in support of disaster recovery. The FDIC states it will also consider relief from certain filing and publishing requirements.
Find continuing InfoBytes coverage on disaster relief guidance here.
On April 6, the governor of Mississippi issued an executive order permitting remote notarizations. To perform a remote notarization under the terms of the order, the notary and the principal must be using two-way audio and visual communication at the time of signing. Additionally, the notary public must reasonably identify the principal, create an audiovisual recording of the act, retain the recording, and ensure that the intended document relates to a matter in Mississippi, among other things. Notaries public intending to perform remote notarizations may use this form to notify the secretary of state.
On March 24, Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves ordered certain restrictions on social gatherings and restrictions on certain non-essential businesses. Any “Essential Business or Operation” may perform services or functions without regard to the limitations. Financial services, including banks, insurance, payroll, accounting, and processing services related to financial markets, and real estate services, including appraisal and title services, are deemed Essential Business.
On March 14, the Mississippi Department of Banking and Consumer Finance (DBCF) issued memoranda to Consumer Finance Licensees and Mortgage Licensees that includes general guidance to the industry and “outline[s] flexibility in DBCF processes in response to the COVID-19 event.” Among other things, the guidance advises licensees to periodically review related risk management plans (specifically continuity and pandemic plans) to ensure continuity of products and services with minimal disruption. It also advises that, if “necessary and appropriate,” licensees may relocate offices or have employees work from home. Additionally, effective March 13, the DBCF will discontinue onsite examinations. During this time, DBCF will be available to assist the industry and consumers via telephone and email communication.
On March 16, the DBCF issued interim guidance allowing mortgage loan originators to temporarily work from home, whether located in Mississippi or another state, even if the home is not a licensed branch provided certain requirements are met.