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On July 16, the FTC and the Florida attorney general announced that the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida granted a temporary restraining order against an allegedly fraudulent credit card interest rate reduction operation. According to the complaint, the operation violated the FTC Act, the Telemarketing Sales Rule, and the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices act by targeting “financially distressed consumers and older adults” through telemarketing phone calls promising to substantially reduce their credit card interest rates and charging consumers upfront fees, ranging from $995 to $3,995. The operation typically charged the fees “during, or immediately following, the telemarketing call, often by using remotely created payment orders” against the consumer’s checking account or credit card. The complaint asserts that consumers often did not receive permanently reduced credit card interest rates, nor did they save “thousands of dollars on their credit card debt,” as promised. Beyond the temporary restraining order, the FTC is seeking a permanent injunction, restitution, and civil money penalties.
On June 26, the Florida Office of Financial Regulation issued Emergency Order 2020-04, which extends filing deadlines for certain licenses. Specifically, any deadlines falling in May 2020 for mortgage brokers and lenders to file mortgage call reports, money services businesses to file quarterly reports, and for both to file financial reports have been suspended and tolled for a period of 30 days from the existing filing deadlines, unless extended by subsequent order. Additionally, the deadline occurring in the months of March, April, or May for any holder of a securities registration to file an annual updating amendment or financial statement is suspended and tolled through June 30, 2020, unless extended by subsequent order.
On May 4, the Florida Office of Financial Regulation reminded Money Transmitter Part II licensees that the deadline to renew licenses has been extended to June 1, 2020 (previously covered here). Licensees that fail to renew by June 1 will be considered inactive and will need to pay an additional fee to reactivate the license. Inactive licenses not renewed by July 30, 2020 will expire.
On April 17, the commissioner of the Florida Office of Financial Regulation issued Emergency Order 2020-03, which temporarily expands the motor vehicle retail installment initial pay rule. The order permits a motor vehicle retail installment seller licensed under Chapter 520 of the Florida Statues to allow the first payment of a motor vehicle retail installment contract to be scheduled up to 90 days from the date of the loan.
Florida Office of Financial Regulation issues guidance regarding steps taken to keep staff and stakeholders safe
In April, the Florida Office of Financial Regulation (OFR) provided information regarding its staff and stakeholders. The guidance provides that OFR is closed to the public and staff are teleworking. Further, registration staff are continuing to process registration applications and examination staff are conducting streamlined, remote examinations using phone and email correspondence.
Florida issues executive order suspending the assessment and collection of taxation for notes and obligations under the CARES Act
On April 6, the Florida governor issued an executive order suspending the assessment and collection of excise taxes on documents imposed pursuant to Chapter 201 of the Florida statutes for all notes and other written obligations made pursuant to Title I of the CARES Act (the Paycheck Protection Program). The Department of Revenue is directed to issue an emergency order establishing that taxation imposed under Chapter 201 on such notes and obligations is not owed as a result of the suspension.
Florida Office of Financial Regulation encourages small businesses to take advantage of CARES relief
On April 2, the Florida Office of Financial Regulation promoted the economic relief available for small businesses in the federal CARES Act signed into law by President Trump on March 27. The Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis and OFR Commissioner Russell Weigel, III were both quoted in support of the bill and encouraged small businesses to take advantage of the relief offered.
On April 2, the Florida governor issued an executive order suspending and tolling any statute providing for (i) a mortgage foreclosure cause of action under Florida law for 45 days and (ii) an eviction cause of action under Florida law solely as it relates to non-payment of rent by residential tenants due to the Covid-19 emergency for 45 days.
On April 1, the governor of Florida issued an executive order requiring all senior citizens and individuals with a significant underlying medical condition to stay at home. The order also requires all persons in Florida to remain at home unless necessary to obtain or provide essential services or conduct essential activities. The order refers to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce for inclusion of “essential services.” This list includes financial services institutions and their workers.
- Daniel P. Stipano to discuss "High standards: Best practices for banking marijuana-related businesses" at the ACAMS AML & Anti-Financial Crime Conference
- Daniel P. Stipano to discuss "Wait wait ... do tell me! Where the panelists answer to you" at the ACAMS AML & Anti-Financial Crime Conference
- Matthew P. Previn and Walter E. Zalenski to discuss "Is valid when made ... valid?" at the Women in Housing & Finance Partner Series webinar
- Warren W. Traiger and Caroline K. Eisner to discuss "CRA modernization and the OCC final rule" at CBA Live
- Daniel R. Alonso to discuss "Transnational corruption: A chat with former U.S. federal prosecutors in New York" at Marval Live Talks
- Sherry-Maria Safchuk and Lauren Frank to discuss "New CFPB interpretation on UDAAP" at a California Mortgage Bankers Association Mortgage Quality and Compliance Committee webinar
- Thomas A. Sporkin to discuss "Managing internal investigations and advanced government defense" at the Securities Enforcement Forum
- H Joshua Kotin to discuss "Mortgage servicing in a recession: Early intervention, loss mitigation and more" at the NAFCU Virtual Regulatory Compliance Seminar
- Daniel R. Alonso to discuss "Independent monitoring in the United States" at the World Compliance Association Peru Chapter IV International Conference on Compliance and the Fight Against Corruption
- Jonice Gray Tucker to discuss "The future of fair lending" at the Mortgage Bankers Association Regulatory Compliance Conference
- Michelle L. Rogers to discuss "Major litigation" at the Mortgage Bankers Association Regulatory Compliance Conference
- Kathryn L. Ryan to discuss "Pandemic fallout – Navigating practical operational challenges" at the Mortgage Bankers Association Regulatory Compliance Conference
- Jonice Gray Tucker to discuss "Consumer financial services" at the Practising Law Institute Banking Law Institute